EDEN & CEDAR PAUL
AUTHORS OF "CREATIVE REVOLUTION"
'he n labour strikes, it says to its master : I shall no longer work at your
/hen it votes for a party of its own, it says: I shall no longer vote at
/hen it creates its own classes and colleges, it says: I shall no longer
think at your command,
abour's challenge to education is the most fundamental of the three.—
Henry de Man.
THOMAS SELTZER, inc.
5 WEST 50th STREET
TO ALL THE
COMRADES AND FRIENDS
WHO HAVE HELPED US
I EDUCATION & THE CLASS STRUGGLE 9
DO YOUR OWN THINKING - 9
CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS IMPERATIVE - - 11
SIMPLIFICATION AND CONCENTRATION OF AIM - 13
TENDENCY IN SCIENCE AND IN EDUCATION - 15
PROLETARIAN ECONOMICS AS A CALL TO ARMS - 17
II WHAT IS PROLETCULT? - 19
TERMINOLOGY - - 19
PHASEOLOGY OF CULTURE - 26
III WANDERINGS IN THE EDUCATIONAL
WILDERNESS - 31
FROM ECCLESIASTICUS TO MARX - 31
DOWN AMONG THE MASSES - 36
IV FALSE ROUTES 41
THE ELEMENTARY EDUCATION ACT OF 1870 - 41
THE ADULT SCHOOL MOVEMENT - - V^ 42
COOPERATIVE EDUCATIOxNT ----- 44
RUSKIN COLLEGE 47
THE WORKERS' EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION - 48
V THE PLEBS LEAGUE & THE CENTRAL
LABOUR COLLEGE - 53
EDUCATIONAL WORK OF THE SOCIALIST LABOUR
THE RIFT IN THE LU r ^ AT RUSKIN - - - 54
THE PLEBS MAGAZINE AND THE PLEBS LEAGUE - \ 57
THE CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGE - 61
VI THE FERMENT OF THE WORLD
REVOLUTION ------ 64
FERRER AND THE MODERN SCHOOLS 64
THE FRENCH SYNDICALISTS - 67
WORKERS' EDUCATION IN THE AMERICAS - - 68
GERMANY: 1, THEORY 75
GERMANY: 2, PRACTICE 77
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i i>i c \ no\ \\i> nil' Oh iM 8TRUUOLE
%H%til info the workiiiij chis* fhr
. hctun \n<1 pvolr fount
k mm \i \k\ nad P* ti im;imi Bitten • . 1848
( M.uuir.io ,»i iho ( lommu&iil Part | . | in )
no mm k ow\ rm\ki\«.
A 1 ia\ W6$kl ggo ihr ft,\lthori WOK dlUGUMlQg Mir
",i"iiiul | > I : I ii Of Mils bOOk Willi our of 1 lir gOOd
Inrmls :iml iomr:nl<-> In whom i< in <lr<l i< .1 f r<l
" , \ our Brs1 i ii.i|)i< r." in* taidj " should contain &n
outline of the genera] characterlatici of the olulu
for [ndependent Working Claw Education Sfou
should dlicusii the nature <>i the need) ihould <i< %
icrtbe the material .mi gyitena of work}ng*elasi
education hat bo deal withj ihould explain the
ruiHl.miriil.il ivn,mrriiirnf *. • » I I hr nnxloi n wnrkiii;-
claw and of the worklng-elati movement a chap
leaves * hool aj fourteen, and In moat eaiei he get*
no further education In iaj purpoelve wuit uniii
in* is twenty. 11 Li boI until he Id about twenty
that we [our comrade was speaking in the Labour
College] have a chance of getting hold of him.
Then, from our point of view and his, the first
need of the education he is craving for, and of the
education which we want to give him, is to show
him his place in the fighting organisation of trade
unionism. That is why it is out of the question
for us to think of giving him what is called i an
all-round education/ There is no time for that;
and if we attempted anything of the kind we should
defeat our own ends."
What, then, is the fundamental requirement of
the modern working class? Unhesitatingly we re-
ply : It is to use the economic power of the workers
for the overthrow of the capitalist system, the
abolition of wagery, and the inauguration of a
classless commonwealth. Consciously or uncon-
sciously, that has been the aim of the modern
working-class movement since it first came to life.
The struggle for higher wages, shorter hours, bet-
ter working conditions, and latterly the struggle
for workers' control in industry, have all been
parts of the struggle for the ending of the dominant
social system. For this purpose, the workers or-
ganise on the economic field, at first in small craft
unions and subsequently in the larger industrial
unions. For this purpose, they organise on the
political field in the endeavour to wrest from the
master class the political machinery of the bour-
geois State. For this purpose, they are creating
a press of their own which shall inform them re-
garding current events without the capitalist bias
which pervades the press owned and controlled by
the plutocracy. Quite recently, during the last ten
EDUCATION AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE 11
years or so, the workers" vanguard has come clearly
to recognise that all other efforts will be mis-
directed unless guided by knowledge. The workers'
demand for education is no longer a demand for
graduated doses of bourgeois culture. It is a
demand for an education which shall make the
workers understand their place in the economic
and social system, and shall help them in the
successful waging of the class war. It is a demand
for Independent Working-Class Education. To
satisfy this demand, the workers have to do their
own thinking. The hirelings of the master class,
of the class which is economically organised in
employers' federations and politically organised as
the " democratic " State, will continue to fool the
workers so long as they are permitted to think for
the workers, and to sing the soothing lullabies of
social solidarity and harmony of interests between
employers and employed.
CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS IMPERATIVE
But we are outrunning the mass of the workers
when we say that they no longer demand graduated
doses of bourgeois culture. We shall see in sub-
sequent chapters that, historically considered, the
demand for adult education was nothing more than
this for nearly three generations. Even to-day,
the demand is often enough no more than this, in
so far as it finds conscious expression. Apart from
the Labour Colleges in London, Glasgow, and
elsewhere, apart from- the Plebs League, which is
the most effective exponent of the demand for a
distinctively proletarian culture, the network of
British organisations through which the craving
for adult education is mainly satisfied, is not con-
sciously partisan. The Workers' Educational
Association, for instance, makes a parade of im-
partiality. Its tendency is one of unconscious bias
in favour of the institutions of the bourgeois State.
Nevertheless, the education which the pupils of
the Tutorial Classes predominantly demand, is
something very different from a vague " general
culture." The working men and women who at-
tend the Tutorial Classes desire instruction, before
all, in such subjects as economics and industrial
history. That is to say, they want to understand
the nature of the system in virtue of which, when
employed, they are galley-slaves chained to the
bench, and, when out of employment, they are
unchained, and jettisoned to fend for themselves
at the mercy of wind and water. They wish to
know how that system grew up. Having learned
that it did not always exist, they desire to grasp
the means by which the working class can effect
the revolutionary transformation of a system which
is obviously inefficient to fulfil the first require-
ments of a " social " order. But this last they
will never learn from the " unbiased " exponents
of social solidarity and class collaboration. Nor
will they learn it for themselves until they become
genuinely class conscious, do their own thinking,
and achieve a culture of their own. Bourgeois
education acts like poison gas. " Bevolutionary
class-conscious education is the only effective gas-
mask for the workers."
EDUCATION AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE 13
SIMPLIFICATION AND CONCENTRATION OP AIM
The demand (even in the Tutorial Classes which
would fain " unite labour and learning ") for a
" narrow " culture, is in itself a manifestation of
a dawning class consciousness. A worker who is
given special opportunities for adult education,
and who, instead of asking for lectures on Shake-
speare or on Greek Art, demands information on
the mechanism of contemporary social life, is at
any rate well on the way to an understanding of
the fact that the working class and the employing
class have nothing in common. But it is in the
organisations which have come into existence as
conscious expressions of the demand for prole-
tarian culture, and as conscious attempts to fulfil
this demand, that we find the most characteristic
simplifications of method, and the most char-
acteristic concentration on primary and essential
subjects. The recognition that the knowledge is
required for immediate action, or for action in the
very near future, is an additional incentive to
simplification and concentration. These requisites
are reinforced by the peculiarities of the students.
Of course those freak members of the working class
who take up some highly specialised study as a
hobby, and pursue it through a life of contented
toil and scant leisure, may rejoice (within in-
exorable limits) in numerous and imperfectly mas-
tered technicalities. But the students of the
Labour Colleges and of the educational classes
which are animated with the spirit of the Plebs
League, being class conscious even before their
adult education begins, being keenly aware of the
limitations imposed by the deficiencies of such
" general culture " as they secured in childhood
kt the elementary schools, and being for the most
part imbued from the outset with the idea that a
social revolution is imminent and that it behoves
them to play their part in intensifying and clari-
fying the revolutionary impetus, will emphasise the
need for simplification and concentration of aim.
Aim, tendency, purpose, this is the leading
feature of proletarian culture. Not " education
for education's sake " ; but revolutionary educa-
tion, i.e., education for revolutionary ends. The
origins of this class-conscious and partisan edu-
cation are but new illustrations of the working of
the forces which, in Marxist theory, are sum-
marised under the name of the materialist con-
ception of history. Developing industrial technique
brings about a development of proletarian con-
sciousness. This gives rise to a proletarian cul-
ture, to Proletcult. And the first aim of Proletcult
(in its prerevolutionary phase) is to simplify, to
concentrate, to discard everything which does not
contribute to the growth of a fighting culture.
Not general culture, professedly unbiased, but a
fighting culture, admittedly tendentious, is the
avowed aim of the revolutionary proletariat. Does
this horrify the champions of " unbiased educa-
tion "? Nay, but we are ready, we are eager, to
offer a general apologia for tendency in science!
We echo Bergson and say : " We do not aim
generally at knowledge for the sake of knowledge,
but in order to take sides, to draw profit — in short,
to satisfy an interest. " (Introduction to Meta-
physics, p. 35).
EDUCATION AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE 15
TENDENCY IN SCIENCE AND IN EDUCATION
The essential thing in science, the essential thing
in education, is the human interest. We live by
desire and emotion ; by the gratification of will
and by artistic appreciation; it is for these ends
that we strive to know. Emotion is the driving
force of human life; what distinguishes man, as
man, from other animals, is the extent to which
he endeavours to make reason his guide. But he
cannot rationalise his activities, he should not try
to rationalise his activities, to the degree of making
them unemotional, of depriving them of " ten-
dency." Thus in proportion as, in science, we
move from the purely abstract to the biological
and social plane, in proportion as the direct human
interest comes to predominate in any branch of
study, do we find that the subject becomes ten-
dentious ; do we find that it is studied with a desire
(conscious or unconscious) to fulfil an underlying
purpose, to advance a cause. We do not mean that
there is no human interest in the higher mathe-
matics. Our essential thesis, that all science is
tendentious, is an assertion of the contrary. It
is a question of degree ; but even in such abstract
sciences as history and philosophy, writers are
readable, are instructive, precisely in proportion
as they refrain from attempting an impossible
" impartiality." But the more abstract the
science, the more, in the interest of truthful
statement, must tendency be kept under control.
Broadly speaking, the gradation is plain enough.
Tendentious algebra would be ridiculous; ten-
dentious arithmetic has landed many an accountant
behind prison bars. These are abstract sciences,
with which tendency has little to do, and in which
the emotional element must be severely repressed.
But the science of economics is studied primarily
for its bearing upon the advancement of human
life. Untendentious economics, untendentious
sociology, are, we would urge, as absurd, as
impossible, as untendentious violin-playing or un-
We choose economics as our illustrative science
for two reasons. In the first place, it is the
favourite subject in working-class adult education.
Secondly, it is a test instance. The Plebs League
has been repeatedly blamed for advocating the
teaching of " merely socialist economics." On
the other hand, the Workers Educational Associa-
tion prides itself on the impartial character of the
economic science taught in the Tutorial Classes.
Quite true, proletarian economics is communis-
tically tendentious, being economics studied by
communists for communists. The underlying pur-
pose of the study is to promote communism. The
affect (as the New Psychology would phrase it) is
a deep-rooted and emotionally tinged conviction
that communist economics is calculated to advance
the workers' cause. But " orthodox economics,"
which means pre-Marxist economics, is in reality
no less tendentious. The difference between the
Marxists and the non- Marxists is that the Marxists
are frankly aware of the nature of their prepos-
sessions, whereas the non-Marxists falsely imagine
that they can keep emotional leanings out of a
study which by its very nature is tendentious.
Economics that is not " merely socialist" is the
EDUCATION AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE 17
economics of the master class. " Official " econo-
mists are — almost literally — " chaplains to the
pirate ship ! "
PROLETARIAN ECONOMICS AS A CALL TO ARMS
There is an excellent story of an oriental student
at a western university who was asked why he
regarded with so much disfavour the works of the
orthodox economists, the writers who claim to be
purely scientific, to be quite free from distorting
tendency. " These writings," -lie answered, "are
variations upon a single theme. They all endeavour
to teach the art of extracting honey from the hive
without alarming the bees." Very different is the
purpose of proletarian economics, of prerevolu-
tionary Proletcult. Its purpose is, as the Plebs
League phrases it, " to further the interests of
Independent Working-Class Education as a par-
tisan effort to improve the position of labour in
the present, and ultimately to assist in the abolition
of wage-slavery." In a word, the primary object of
our tendentious economics, and of all our tenden-
tious proletarian education, is to alarm the bees.
Aux armes, citoyens ! To arms, comrades ! You
are being robbed every hour of your working day,
and every hour of your unemployment. Not merely
do the drones rifle you of your material goods (no
small thing, though it may seem a trifle to those
who have never known want). But inasmuch as
you are robbed of these material things, and in
virtue of the whole system which robs you of these
things, you are being robbed of far greater
treasures; of life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. If you would end this despoilment,
overturn the old order, and create the new. There
are three means by which, in collaboration, you
will bring about this revolutionary change :
political organisation in the ranks of the Com-
munist Party; mass action on the part of the
organised workers; and proletarian culture.
Now Proletcult is the lamp whereby all the
roads of advance arc lighted.
WHAT IS PEOLETCULT?
New ideas make a more definite impres-
sion on the mind when they are associated
with a new name. — Walter Rathenau. (In
Days to Come, p. 247.)
Proletarians who are alive to their class interest
(which is the true interest of civilisation) will
insist upon doing their own thinking; they will
insist upon Independent Working-Class Education,
upon proletarian culture, upon Proletcult. The
term Independent Working- Class Education is
about twelve years old. The word Proletcult is
fire-new, and brings us up with a jar against the'
question of terminology.
Proletcult is a compact term, a " portmanteau
word," for proletarian culture. In the prerevo-
lutionary phase, when a specifically proletarian
culture is requisite as a fighting culture, as a means
to the social revolution, Proletcult is practically
synonymous with what is generally known in this
country by the cumbrous name of Independent
Working-Class Education. What do we under-
stand by education? In the widest sense of the
term, education signifies the sum of the environ-
mental influences which act on the individual so
as to promote his mental development, and trans-
form him from the savage he is at birth into a
civilised human being. But as a method of culture
deliberately employed, Proletcult, like all educa-
tional methods, is tendentious, for it has a definite
aim. Just as bourgeois education — " higher-class "
education in public schools, private schools, and
universities, and " lower-class " education in the
State schools — has the definite aim of promoting
the maintenance of the existing order; so Inde-
pendent Working-Class Education has the definite
aim of subverting that order. Both types of
education are tendentious. The only difference
between them in this respect is that bourgeois
education is less consciously tendentious, and often
claims to be entirely above the battle, to be purely
impartial. Independent Working-Class Education
proclaims itself to be candid but not impartial.
Its frankness in this respect is a source of strength.
An essential element of proletarian culture is the
belief that all education outside the domain of the
extremely abstract sciences like mathematics and
outside the domain of the purely physical sciences
like mechanics, all education which involves im-
parting a knowledge of man's place in nature and
society, is necessarily tendentious. In the first
chapter we offered a reasoned justification of ten-
dency in science and education. Our present
concern is not to justify Proletcult, but to explain
what the word means.
In the postrevolutionary phase — for instance, in
Soviet Eussia — Proletcult broadens out in two
directions. Before the social revolution, it is
mainly if not exclusively a fighting culture.
WHAT IS PROLETCULT? 21
Dominated throughout by the tactic of the class
struggle, Independent Working-Class Education
can pay little attention to the arts and graces of
life. At best, its interest in these is incidental
merely, in so far as they are vehicles of propaganda
— what Tolstoi termed " means of infection."
Economics, economic geography, history, biology,
sociology, psychology, politics (in the Aristotelian
sense) — these are the subjects which, taught from
the proletarian outlook, render the worker's mind
immune to bourgeois ideology. They arouse the
revolutionary spirit and mentality essential to the
overthrow of capitalism and to the upbuilding of
a society based upon labour instead of ownership,
upon production for use instead of production for
profit. After the revolution in any particular
country, and until the world-wide proletarian
revolution has been achieved, the need for a fight-
ing culture still remains ; but such a culture differs
in certain respects from prer evolutionary Prolet-
cult. The workers' vanguard has overthrown the
capitalist State, has achieved the dictatorship of
the proletariat. Just as, under capitalism, the
aim of capitalist State education is to produce in
the children of the workers a mentality suitable to
the purposes of the capitalist State, to inoculate
with bourgeois ideology those who are proletarian
by status, to make of them docile wage-slaves and
submissive instruments of capitalism; so, under
workers' rule, the workers will use the machinery
of State education to produce Hn average mentality
tending to stabilise the workers' State. This is
what the Soviet Government is successfully ac-
complishing in Russia.
Except for the fact that after the revolution the
whole curriculum can be directed towards these
ends, whereas in the capitalist State the influences
of Independent Working-Class Education can for
the most part be brought to bear only as an occa-
sional antidote or as a supplement to the bourgeois
culture of the State schools, there is not much
difference at first sight between prerevolutionary
and postrevolutionary Proletcult. But apart from
these elements of a fighting culture, the workers'
State can now to an increasing extent devote its
attention to what we have termed the arts and
graces of life. The social revolution will have
released the creative forces slumbering in the pro-
letariat; art and science will blossom abundantly
and will assume new forms. It is to these de-
velopments that the term Proletcult was first
applied in Soviet Eussia. They will be fully
considered in a special chapter. Enough here to
say that in Germany, Proletcult is understood in
the wider sense in which the word is employed in
this book. Indeed, the more ample conception of
Proletcult is now gaining ground in Eussia it-
Before quitting the somewhat arid field of defini-
tion, it seems expedient to say that no definition
of such terms as proletariat, bourgeoisie, class
struggle, revolution, etc., is considered requisite.
This is a study of Proletcult, not of economics or
sociology. The words are employed in the sense
usual in modern Marxist literature.- In so far as
the authors may have any message of their own to
convey upon such topics, they have conveyed that
message in a little volume entitled Creative Revo-
WHAT IS PROLETCULT? 23
hit ion. Enough to say here that Proletcult, as a
fighting culture, is based upon the conception of
the class struggle; that its fundamental aim, in
the prerevolutionary phase, is to render the workers
class-conscious, and thus to give them both the
knowledge and the fighting impetus which will
enable them to achieve their historic mission — the
final overthrow of capitalism and the inauguration
of the classless State The idea of the class struggle
will run through this book like a red thread, dif-
ferentiating proletarian culture from bourgeois
culture supplied to proletarians.
Culture is not synonymous with education.
Education is something which acts; it is an agent.
Culture is often used to denote the agent, but it
is also used to denote the result. Education pro-
duces culture. This culture, the result of educa-
tion, is what the Marxists term an ideology; it
is a system of ideas, a " Weltanschauung " or
outlook-upon-the-world, a philosophy of life. Re-
garded as an ideology, the culture of each class,
each social group, each occupational group, differs
from the culture of all the rest. To take a familiar
instance; the ideology of a doctor, his outlook on
disease, differs fundamentally from the ideology
of his patient — and this simply as an outcome of
training, quite apart from a possible conflict of
interests between doctor and patient when both
are under the capitalist harrow. Similarly as
regards master and servant, as regards employer
and employed; the different relationships give
different ideologies, different cultures. We see
these contrasts at every turn. The culture of the
sportsman is at variance with the culture of his
quarry. Assuredly it is not surprising that an
exploited class endeavouring to throw off the yoke
of an exploiting class should find it essential to
develop the elements of its own culture.
Let us pass on from these aspects of culture, to
consider a still broader meaning of that elusive
term. We must speak of culture in the widest
possible sense, as the product of education in the
widest possible sense. We must speak of culture
as including all the achievements whereby man has
gained the mastery over nature; all the acquire-
ments which are enabling him by degrees to con-
trol the social environment and his own complex
personality; and all the iridescent manifestations
of art and science wherein man seeks self-expres-
sion and whereby he is enabled to enjoy the splen-
dour of life. Culture in this extended sense is at
once the raw material of civilisation and its finest
fruit. As the raw material of civilisation, as the
culture of those whom Muller-Lyer (History of
Social Development) classifies as the Nature Peo-
ples, culture of course existed prior to civilisation.
Savages had and have their typical cultures; the
culture of the lower hunters, the higher hunters,
and the fishers, respectively. Barbarians had and
have their cultures ; the culture of the pastoralists,
and the cultures of the various types of agricul-
turists. But the higher developments of culture
occur only among the Culture Folk; among hor-
ticulturists, plough culturists, and commerce cul-
turists. Accompaniments of the more intensive
cultivation of the soil, their predominant cause is
WHAT IS PROLETCULT? 25
leisure. In the elementary stages of civilisation
(all that man has hitherto traversed) leisure is
possible only through the division of labour,
through the differentiation of men into professions
and trades, and through the segregation of society
into classes. The workers do not yet do their
own thinking. They are slaves, peasants, serfs,
journeymen, or wage-slaves. Art and science, the
richer developments of the life of feeling and
thought, are the product and the privilege of a
leisure class, and have their roots in the exploita-
tion of labour. " In capitalist society, spare time
is acquired for one class by converting the whole
lifetime of the masses into labour-time." Marx,
Capital, vol. i., p. 540).
Thus the higher culture arises only as the pro-
duct of leisure. One of the paradoxes of what is
termed " social " development has been that all
down the ages of civilisation it has been rendered
possible solely through the break-up of the unity
of primitive society, thus producing a type of
"society" rent asunder by the class struggle.
For the higher culture to be possible, "man"
must be freed from the need to give his whole time
to the immediate tasks imposed by the struggle
for existence. That is to say, certain men (and
women) must be freed from these immediate tasks.
Moreover, human mentality must be so far ad-
vanced that these men and women have a desire
for active mental employment during the leisure
which class differentiation has granted them. At
all times hitherto, and among all classes, desire
for the advancement of culture and capacity for
the enjoyment of higher culture, have been con-
fined to a small minority of our race. Among
civilised humanity, most grown-ups devote their
spare time to games and sports, and other forms
of pseudo-culture. This is just as true of the
proletariat as of the bourgeoisie. The reduction
of the hours of toil which has been achieved by
the mass action of organised labour is turned to
account, for cultural purposes, only by the few.
An essential element of Proletcult is the design
to make the workers realise that, apart from what
is really needful for physical relaxation and mental
refreshment, amusements and pseudo-culture are
part of the dope whereby their attention is diverted
from the class war and whereby their slave status
is maintained. It is probable that only a minority
is intellectually capable of responding to the call
of Proletcult — but in critical hours a sufficiently
large, well-informed, and enthusiastic minority
can always sway the inert mass.
PHASEOLOGY OF CULTURE
We must now consider the phaseology of culture,
of that higher culture which is characteristic of
civilisation. For our present purposes, three main
phases may be distinguished : aristocratic and
theocratic culture ; democratic culture ; ergato-
cratic culture, or the culture of the phase upon
which civilisation is now entering, the culture
which is at once the cause and the effect of
ergatocracy or workers' rule.
Aristocratic and theocratic culture are avowedly
the privilege of a leisure class, which avowedly
aims at perpetuating its rule. In both cases, the
sustainers of culture are the stipendiaries of the
WHAT IS PROLETOULT? 27
exploiting caste, but they are not always by origin
members of that caste. The members of a heredi-
tary aristocracy are often rude and uncultured
persons; but some of them love culture for its
own sake; and many of them are patrons, willing
to grant leisure to those talented members of a
lower class who can devote themselves to the ad-
vancement of culture. In a theocracy, culture is
the privilege of a priestly caste, sometimes heredi-
tary, but more often recruited from among all
strata of the population. But whether the culture
of this phase be aristocratic or theocratic, it is
invariably and jealously reserved for members of
the governing class and their hangers-on. There
is no culture for the " common people," for the
hewers of wood and the drawers of water.
Democratic culture is characteristic of the phase
in social development now drawing to a close. In
its later stages, throughout all the countries where
a highly differentiated capitalistic civilisation pre-
vails, culture is professedly universal. In actual
fact, however — while there is culture for the
dominant class and for those aspiring members of
the working class who can usefully replenish the
forces of capitalism — for the working class as a
whole there is only schooling. State education,
in the modern bourgeois State, aims at giving that
minimum of instruction which is requisite for the
nominally " educated " citizens of bourgeois par-
liamentarism, and essential for the wage-slaves
under the complicated technique of modern
capitalist production. For the rest, such ele-
ments of bourgeois culture as are allowed to filter
through to the " lower " classes are designed to
drug the workers' minds into acceptance of the
" ' Ever heard of a pithed frog? ' said the Tramp.
—'Pithed frog/ said the Angel. 'No!' — 'It's a
thing these here viviseetionists do. They takes a
frog and they cuts out his brains and they shoves
a bit of pith in the place of 'em. That's a pithed
frog. Well — that there village is full of pithed
human beings.'— The Angel took it quite seriously.
' # Is that so? ' he said. — ' That's so — you take my
word for it. Everyone of them 'as 'ad their brains
cut out and chunks of rotten touchwood put in
the place of it. And you see that little red place
there? ' — ' That's called the national school/ said
the Angel. — 'Yes — that's where they piths 'em/
said the Tramp." (H. G. Wells, The, Wonderful
Visit, Chapter xxx.).
We do not assert that this is the outcome of a
deliberate policy, for our capitalist rulers are less
intelligent than communists are apt to believe.
But that is the way things work out in practice.
Moreover, the bourgeoisie no less than the pro-
letariat is becoming class-conscious; and to an
increasing extent the class war is a manifestation
of purposive actions and reactions. Thus, as far
as may be, higher culture is exclusively reserved
for the members of the bourgeois class. Proles
is given nothing but the three E's until he demands
more with irresistible emphasis. Then, to divert
his attention from the class struggle, he is given
carefully graded doses of " impartial " education
in the form of University Extension.
Ergatocratic culture is Proletcult. Elsewhere
the authors have expounded their conception of
WHAT IS PEOLETCULT? 29
ergatocracy, the new name which is to enable a
new idea to make a more definite impression
on the mind. Ergatocracy is " workers' rule."
Through the dictatorship of the proletariat it will
save civilisation from perishing in the shipwreck
of capitalism. Through the dictatorship of the
proletariat it will realise that higher phase of
ergatocracy when there will be no more proletariat.
Proletarians form a working class; under erga-
tocracy, when all will be workers, there will be a
classless State. Primarily, as has been said,
ergatocratic culture, workers' culture, proletarian
culture, Proleteult, is a fighting culture, aiming
at the overthrow of capitalism, and at the replace-
ment of democratic culture and bourgeois ideology
by ergatocratic culture and proletarian ideology.
In this stage it is avowedly a class culture. In
the postrevolutionary phase, when ergatocracy has
been realised, and in proportion as it becomes
possible to relax the dictatorship of the proletariat,
for the first time in the history of civilisation cul-
ture will become a universal culture. It is likely
enough that it will continue even then, when the
proletariat has ceased to exist, to bear the name
of the class from which it sprang. Walter
Eathenau coins a useful phrase when he speaks
of the principle of the Substitution of the Content.
When historic conditions change, old names often
persist, but by degrees a new wine is put into the
old bottles. So significant is the contrast between
bourgeois culture and proletarian culture, so tre-
mendous is the present turning-point in the world's
history, that it may well happen that the first
universal culture will continue to bear the name
of Proletcult long after the proletariat has passed
away, having fulfilled its historic mission.
We need not concern ourselves with these distant
vistas. Enough here and now for us to under-
stand the fighting culture of the proletariat, the
culture which will achieve and consolidate the
proletarian revolution, and will then proceed to
reap the harvest of that revolution. This is what
we mean by Proletcult.
WANDERINGS IN THE EDUCATIONAL
The only education that can be of service
to the workers is an education that gives to
them a grasp of their own position in
society and an understanding of their
mission. — William Mellor. (Direct Action,
FROM ECCLESIASTICUS TO MARX
An idea for which the time is ripe secures so rapid
and so universal an acceptance that it is often
difficult to ascertain where it was first formulated.
It has been contended that the idea of what we
have termed revolutionary Proletcult originated
with the French syndicalists, and was introduced
into Britain by British disciples. But the first
attempt at Independent Working-Class Education
in Britain had no such origin. W. Nairne, of the
Social Democratic Federation, organised Marxist
classes on the Clyde as long ago as the nineties.
Nairne died young in 1898, and the work was
carried on more systematically by George Yates
and Jim Connolly, who led the left wing of the
Scottish S.D.F. against Hyndman and Quelch.
The idea of the class struggle is almost as old
as the class struggle itself, and the class struggle
is a universal manifestation throughout the his*
tory of civilisation. A cry that has come down
through the ages is that of Jesus the son of Sirach :
" What peace is there between the hyena and the
dog; and what peace between the rich man and
the poor? Wild asses are the prey of lions in the
wilderness ; so poor men are pastures for the rich.
. . . A poor man speaketh, and they say, Who
is this? And if he stumble, they will help to
overthrow him." (Ecciesiasticus, XIII, 18, 19,
4 and 23). But the idea of using education as a
subversive instrument could hardly originate in
Judaea more than two thousand years ago. Nor
can we expect to find such a notion formulated by
any of the great utopists, from Plato and More
and Oampanella down to Hertzka and Wells; for
most of the utopists have been social solidarians.
There is an effective social solidarity — if only
people would realise it! Goodwill and Ripe In-
telligence will solve the social problem without
anything so crude as class war and revolutionary
education ! In fact the usual poppycock of the
apostles of a Change of Heart and of the poten-
tially perfect Rationality of Man!
But there was one socialist who wrote a Utopian
romance and yet was most certainly not a utopist.
The author of News from Nowhere was on the track
of the idea of revolutionary education as long ago
as 1893. In his lecture on Communism (published
as Fabian Tract No. 113, with preface by G.B.S.),
William Morris writes : " What we have to hope
for is that the inevitable advance of the society
of equality will make itself felt by the conscious-
IN THE EDUCATIONAL WILDERNESS 33
ness of its necessity being impressed upon the
working people, and that they will consciously
and not blindly strive for its realisation. That in
fact is what we mean by the education into so-
cialism of the working classes " (p. 9). Again (p.
10) : the existing system of society " may well
seem like the operation of a natural law to men
so uneducated that they have not even escaped
the reflexion of the so-called education of their
masters, but in addition to their other mishaps are
saddled also with the superstitions and hypocrisies
of the upper classes, with scarce a whit of the
characteristic traditions of their own class to help
them : an intellectual slavery which is a necessary
accompaniment of their material slavery. " Yet
again (also on p. 10) : " Are we to give up all
hope of educating them into socialism? Surely
not. Let us use all possible means for drawing
them into socialism, so that at last they may
find themselves in such a position that they
understand themselves to be face to face with
false society, themselves the only possible ele-
ments of true society. " Undoubtedly, we have
here the idea of Proletcult in the germ.
There had, indeed, been no lack in England of
preachers of the class war. One of the earliest
and most notable was the " Mad Priest of Kent,"
the gist of whose sermons has been preserved by
Froissart. " Good people," said John Ball,
" things will never go well in England so long
as goods be not in common, and so long as there
be villeins and gentlemen. By what right are
they whom we call lords greater folk than we?
. . . They have leisure and fine houses ; we have
pain and labour, the rain and the wind in the
fields. And yet it is of us and our toil that these
men hold their state." But there is no revolu-
tionary educational propaganda in the sermons of
John Ball, except in so far as he proclaims the
class war. In this sense he was a modern. So
in this sense was Spartacus. Yet it is a far cry
from preaching and waging the class war in mo-
ments when the struggle becomes acute, to the
recognition that revolutionary education is of
enormous importance and may at certain times and
in certain places become the decisive factor in the
inauguration of the classless State.
Robert Owen, in Essays on the Formation of
Character (1813-1815), puts forward ideas which
foreshadow the methods of postrevolutionary Pro-
letcult. It was by an education not unlike that
which is now being carried on in Russia that Owen
secured his wonderful successes at New Lanark.
But there was no prerevolutionary Proletcult, no
tincture of the ideas of Independent Working-Class
Education, in the proposals of Robert Owen. He
appealed to the government to assist him in his
plans, thus showing clearly that at this time he
failed to understand the true nature of the
The Chartists and the founders of trade unionism
in Britain had, for their date, a wonderfully clear
grasp of the significance of the class struggle.
But they had no educational policy of any kind,
and there is not even a demand for " popular
education " under State auspices among the fa-
mous six points of the Charter. Perhaps the
clearest pre- Victorian announcements of the class
IN THE EDUCATIONAL WILDERNESS 35
struggle as it manifests itself under capitalist
conditions are those which appeared in a Chartist
paper published in Manchester, and entitled " The
Poor Man's Guardian. " Here an anonymous
weaver writes : " People who live by plunder, will
always tell you to be submissive to thieves " (March
19, 1832). " There is no common interest between
working men and profit-makers. " (April 14,
1832). The former of these two quotations con-
tains an acute analysis of the educational policy
of the " haves/' but no educational policy is out-
lined by the writer for the " have-nots." The most
notable early formulation of such a policy was
to come fifteen years later from the greatest of all
socialist theorists, Marx and Engels. An emphatic
pronouncement of the Communist Manifesto on
this subject has been quoted as the motto of our
first chapter. Again and again, the Manifesto
insists upon the contrast between bourgeois cul-
ture and ideology on the one hand and prole-
tarian culture and ideology on the other. " The
ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas
of its ruling class. When people speak of ideas
that revolutionise society, they do but express the
fact that within the old society the elements
of a new one have been created, and that the
dissolution of the old ideas keeps pace with
the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.
. . . The communist revolution is the most
radical rupture with traditional property relations ;
no wonder that its development involves the most
radical rupture with traditional ideas." But we
do not find, we cannot expect to find, in the
Communist Manifesto a definite educational policy
for revolutionists, a definite recognition of the fact
that the workers' vanguard must deliberately strive
to diffuse the elements of a new culture. More
than forty years were to be spent in wanderings
in the wilderness before this was to become the
deliberate educational policy of the revolutionary
DOWN AMONG THE MASSES
Numerous have been the organisations in Bri-
tain aiming at the adult education of the workers.
Contemporary bodies like the Young Men's Chris-
tian Association, whose avowed purpose it is to
" do good " to the poor, to " instruct " the ignor-
ant, and to " uplift " the lowly, need be mentioned
only to be dismissed. Their whole ideology is
bourgeois or petty bourgeois; their psychology is
for the most part medieval: individualist " suc-
cess " either in this world or the next is their
objective. Their only bearing upon the class
struggle is that they are among the agencies that
assist in obscuring its issues, and that in this way
they cooperate towards the stabilisation of the
existing order. Since the war, indeed, the
Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A. have been definitely
and consciously used to supply educational " dope"
to intelligent youths and maidens.
More interesting are the attempts that have been
made to promote working-class education of a
character ostensibly freed from the dominance of
outworn creeds. Among these, the Working Men's
College founded in London in the year 1854, a
similar body established not long afterwards in
Sheffield, and kindred organisations, deserve
IN THE EDUCATIONAL WILDERNESS 37
especial mention. But all such bodies were the
offspring of middle and upper class movements,
designed by well-meaning philanthropists to confer
the boon of knowledge on their social inferiors —
in days when a large proportion of the population
was still unable to read and write. The benevolent
founders of these institutions suffered greatly from
what the Freudians term the " superiority com-
plex." Two extracts will show how utterly alien
to any revolutionary spirit were these early ex-
periments in adult education.
The first extract relates to Frederick Denison
Maurice (1805-1872) usually regarded as the orig-
inator of the Christian Socialist movement in
England. Maurice, writes Beer (History of British
Socialism, London, 1919-20, Vol. II, pp. 180-2),
"believed that God had an educational plan for
the world, by which the perfection of the individual
and the race was to be accomplished. . . . His
main idea was to Socialise the Christian and to
Christianise the Socialist. Socialism appeared to
him to be essentially the business of the Church
and not of the State. . . . He was no demo-
crat, and condemned the doctrine of the sovereignty
of the people as subversive."
Another leading spirit in the early days of the
Working Men's College was F. J. Furnivall (1825-
1910), in youth a celebrated oarsman, in later life
a distinguished philologist, and always a genial
eccentric. The Eev. J. Llewelyn Davies, editor of
an excellent history entitled The Working Men's
College, 1854-1904, refers to Furnivall' s popularity
among the students, and tells us in a footnote that
H Dr. Furnivall represents a line of action that
was out of harmony in some respects with
Maurice's views and feelings." FurnivalPs prin-
ciple was that every man was to be treated as an
equal and a friend. He would have liked the
students to be allowed beer in the College at
supper, and remarks that since the Council was
firm on teetot&li&m [for working men !] , he and
his students had many a jolly evening at a neigh-
bouring pub. And yet there was a subtle and
subconscious flavour of patronage even about Fur-
nivalPs attitude. Original in spelling as in other
matters he writes (op. cit. pp. 55/6) : "I urged
every teacher to have his class to tea at his own
rooms, if possible. . . . As an instance of how
this workt I may give the case of a student, a
lithographer, who met me in Camden Town some
thirty-five years after he had been a member of
my grammar class. After telling me how well he
had got on, what classes he was teaching drawing
to, etc., he said : ' And do you know how all this
came about?' 'No,' said I. 'Then I'll tell you,'
answered he. ' I was in your class at the College,
and you askt me to tea with some of the others.
I'd never been in a gentleman's room before, and
when I came out, after seeing your pictures, books,
and chairs, I said to myself, " I'll have as good a
room as that." And now I've got a better.' Cheer-
ing, wasn't it, and so unexpected. Ruskin and
most of our teachers had their classes to tea."
We have taken the liberty of italicising the more
salient passages, with their quaint aroma of " Self-
Help " and Samuel Smiles. Could the gospel of
" Climb out of the working class," as opposed
to the gospel of " Expropriate the expropriators
IN THE EDUCATIONAL WILDERNESS 39
and install the classless commonwealth," find more
It will be obvious that in these Working Men's
Colleges there was no breath of that vivifying
atmosphere of the class struggle which sweeps like
a draught of fresh air through the early trade-
unionist movement and to a lesser extent through
the early cooperative movement. Though called
Working Men's Colleges, they were in no sense
whatever a spontaneous product of the working-
class spirit, a manifestation of the demand for a
distinctively proletarian culture. Like Toynbee
Hall, Oxford House, the University Extension
Movement, and similar products of the late-
Victorian era, these mid- Victorian educational
activities were the gifts of conscience-stricken
members of the bourgeois class, the gifts of per-
sons willing to do anything for the workers —
except get off their backs. When they were not
the outcome of what we now call " swank " !
When the motive was not simply that of the idler
in search of sensation, the motive which animated
so many of the fashionable "shimmers" of the
eighties. We recall the words of the dying Lumpen -
proletarian in May Kendall's " Ballad of the
Cadger " (Dreams to Sell, London, 1887) :
" Go down among the masses ! "
Why, every blessed toff-
It isn't us he cares for,
It's showing hisself off !
So much for the first stirrings of the movement
for adult education in Britain. We must now
turn to consider later developments, still pre-
Marxian in their ideology though not pre- Marxian
in time. Largely proletarian in origin , they belong
to the era of advanced capitalism, when inter-
national competition and the developments of
industrial technique (to say nothing of the
exigencies of modern warfare) had enforced the
acceptance of universal State education. But
State education in Britain was, until yesterday,
continued only up to the age of 14. After this
brief schooling, came years of neglect and drift,
until in early adult life a certain proportion of
the workers grew aware of the desire for a fuller
education. Prior to the formation of the Plebs
League and the subsequent foundation of the
Central Labour College, the chief organisations to
cope with that need were those connected with the
Adult School Movement, the Cooperative Move-
ment, and the Workers' Educational Association.
The direction of the mind is more im-
portant than its progress. — Joseph Joubert.
(Thoughts, No. 266.)
THE ELEMENTARY EDUCATION ACT OP 1870
A discussion of State education lies beyond the
scope of this book. We write in the conviction
that the capitalist State represents the interests
of the capitalist class. The whole theory of Pro-
letcult implies a belief that at the present stage
of social development the interest of the working
class has become the primary interest of civilisa-
tion, and that a true civilisation can only be
achieved through the revolutionary instrument of
Independent Working-Class Education. The bour-
geoisie, no less than the proletariat, grows in-
creasingly class conscious as the hour for the final
struggle approaches, and it would be absurd to
expect the master class to provide the weapons for
its own expropriation. But though the master
class has never ceased to wage the class struggle,
it is to proletarian philosophy that the world owes
a recognition of the existence and the nature of
that struggle. It was in the days before the
characteristics of the modern working-class move-
ment were understood, that capitalist States were
compelled by historic forces to establish systems
of universal and compulsory elementary education.
Wanderings in the educational wilderness were
inevitable so long as the working population was
for the most part illiterate in the crudest sense of
that term. Not until after Foster's Act of 1870,
whereby elementary education was made compul-
sory in Britain, could there arise the first intima-
tions of a movement in favour of Independent
THE ADULT SCHOOL MOVEMENT
The Adult School Movement has not emerged
from the educational wilderness, but is included
in the present chapter rather than in the last be-
cause it is a vigorous contemporary undertaking,
and because its activities may (to a minimal ex-
tent) serve to supply recruits for the revolutionary
army. It is the oldest educational movement in
this country among those which attempt to supply
the need for adult working-class education. The
first Adult School was established in 1798, and
many others flourished in the early decades of the
nineteenth century. During the first fifty years
and more of their existence, their chief function
was to teach illiterates to read. From 1852 on-
wards, the Society of Friends played an active
part in promoting the development of Adult
Schools. Since 1874 there has been a steady growth
in their number, and their educational work has
come to predominate over their religious activities.
Writing in the W.E.A. Education Year Book (1918),
the secretary to the National Adult School Union
speaks of " its 18,000 school communities, meeting
FALSE RO UTES 43
weekly for consecutive study, its hundreds of study
circles, its courses of lectures, its week-end lectur§
schools, its summer schools, and its many tutorial
and similar classes."
But a careful study of the publications of the
Union will impress the Proletculturist with the
importance of the distinction drawn by Joseph
Joubert (the French philosopher) when he wrote
" the direction of the mind is more important than
its progress. " We emerge from a perusal of the
Adult School literature with the feeling that we
have been plunged in a bath of Uplift, of Earnest-
ness, of Undenominational Goodness. But our
minds have been given no direction whatever, save
towards an undefined " progress," or towards the
chimera of " social solidarity " in a community
rent asunder by the class struggle. This " non-
partisan education " leads nowhither. Consciously,
at least. Unconsciously, with its inculcation of
the ideal of social service, with its blindness to
the realities of the class war, it tends to perpetuate
the bias the pupils have already received in the
State elementary schools — to perpetuate the belief
that the present world- order is the final form of
civilisation, and that no improvements are needed
beyond reforms within the existing system. The
Adult Schools, under present auspices, can have
no Proletcultural influence whatever. When not
effectively reactionary, they are monuments of
wasted effort. For the most part they make for
reaction. We live in one of those critical epochs
in which we must show our colours. The revolu-
tionist's slogan must be, " Who is on my side?
He who is not for me is against me."
Cooperators' interest in education dates from a
period long antecedent to the Elementary Educa-
tion Act. The Rochdale pioneers (1844) made a
rule " that a definite percentage of profits should
be allotted to education." This example has been
followed more or less faithfully throughout the
history of the movement, and the model rules of
the Cooperative Union recommend to every society
the putting aside of 2\% of its surplus as an edu-
cational fund, and the election of a special com-
mittee for administration. At the present time
cooperators are spending something like £100,000
a year upon educational activities. Since the co-
operative movement is most emphatically an in-
dependent working-class movement, and since the
pioneer cooperators (at any rate) were inspired
with the belief that their movement was destined
to achieve a social revolution, it might be expected
that cooperative education would develop in the
direction of Independent Working-Glass Educa-
tion, in the direction of revolutionary proletarian
culture. The Duke of Northumberland, we learn
from " The Spectator " of August 14, 1920, actually
believes that Robert Smillie's policy is to capture
the cooperative movement for revolution! But
the dominant economic system has been too strong
for the cooperators. Despite the success of dis-
tributive cooperation, cooperation has not proved
itself to be a revolutionary force. Nor has the
cooperators' mentality escaped the universally in-
fective influence of bourgeois ideology.
What is the " direction " of the cooperative
mind in educational matters? It is announced
FALSE EOUTES 45
on the cover of " The Cooperative Educator," a
monthly magazine published by the Cooperative
Union Limited. Here we read : " The objects of
cooperative education are, primarily, the forma-
tion of cooperative character and opinions by
teaching the history, theory, and principles of the
movement, with economics and industrial and con-
stitutional history in so far as they have a bearing
on cooperation ; and secondarily, though not neces-
sarily of less import, the training of men and
women to take part in industrial and social re-
forms and civic life generally." This formula dates
from 1885, when a Central Educational Committee
of the Cooperative Union was established for the
purpose of directing and coordinating the educa-
tional policy and the educational work of the
societies. It will be obvious that the aims of co-
operative education are twofold. The first of these
may be defined as " technical education " for co-
operators. The second aim is to train cooperators
to become useful reformers within the existing
order. Not a word about the class war; not a
word about the social revolution ! In the recom-
mendations in regard to cooperative education
presented to the Swansea Cooperative Congress
(1917), there are repeated references to " joint
action for educational purposes with other working-
class organisations." The bodies specifically
named are Ruskin College, Oxford; The Working
Men's College, London ; and The Workers' Edu-
cational Association. Significant indeed is the
omission ! The Labour College desires no support
from laodiceans. But the fact that the Labour
College is not one of the working-class organisa-
tions with which the cooperative educationists
propose to cooperate, indicates that cooperators
are not class conscious but only cooperator con-
For Proletcultural purposes the cooperative
movement would seem to be useless because it is
not animated with the spirit of revolution. The
cooperation is a cooperation between the slaves
and the machine which drives them. Such co-
operation is no more than a lubricant easing the
chafe of the chains, but incapable of loosening these
chains. To be cooperator conscious is not enough.
Revolutionary class consciousness is essential.
There are, indeed, stirrings of such a conscious-
ness in the latest cooperative educational document
which has been brought to our notice. On p. 97
of the Educational Programme and Syllabuses of
Classes for the Session 1920-21 it is refreshing to
read : " For many years, cooperative students and
others, have experienced a sense of dissatisfaction
with the orthodox theories of economics, and with
the manner in which economics is presented in text-
books and in the majority of classes. . . . The
study of wealth pursuit has overshadowed the study
of communal wellbeing." . . . We " cannot
transform the present system without understand-
ing it " . . . and so on, and so on.
Shade of Adam Smith ! Could you but have
foreseen how, in post-Marxian days, the " dismal
science " was to become the favourite subject of
proletarian study, and was predestined to act as
a revolutionary high explosive. If these coopera-
tive students get to work on an analysis of the
contradictions latent in the term " communal well-
FALSE ROUTES 47
being/' the basis of harmonious joint action with
Euskin College and the W.E.A. may speedily be
Ruskin College, a residential institution for
adult working-class students, was founded at Ox-
ford in the year 1899. Strangely enough, the
founders were not British, but American admirers
of John Ruskin. In view of John Ruskin's long
and intimate association with Oxford, it is per-
haps not surprising that for this extension of the
" benefits" of university training to members of
the working class they should have chosen what
is commonly regarded as the most reactionary of
all British universities. But it is certainly worthy
of note that one of the American founders (Charles
Beard) has since placed on record his opinion that
" the modern university does not have for its
major interest the free, open, and unafraid con-
sideration of modern issues." For this is the
fundamental fact about Ruskin College and its
connexion with Oxford. This is what led, ten
years after the foundation, to the revolt of the
pioneer British Proletculturists, students at Rus-
kin College who believed that the College was
imbibing the university atmosphere instead of
guiding a revolutionary movement.
Of the revolt and its consequences, more in the
proper place. Enough to say here that the College
seeks to supply a training in subjects which are
essential for working-class leadership. But the
leaders must be of the " saf e and sane" variety,
warranted not to go too far. The College at
present has no endowments, but is supported by
trade unions, cooperative societies, the Working
Men's Club and Institute Union, and other work-
ing-class organisations. Individual subscribers
help the finances. Six hundred students have
passed through the College in one and two year
courses, and more than ten thousand have taken
out correspondence courses. Owing to the diffi-
culty of providing the requisite income of £4,000
a year, an appeal was recently issued to the public
on behalf of an endowment fund of £76,000. Two
among the signatories of this appeal were Arthur
James Balfour and David Lloyd George. Never-
theless, since its reorganisation in 1910, Ruskin
has been substantially under working-class control
as regards finance, and might shake itself free of
the " university spirit " if only its governors were
genuinely class conscious.
THE WORKERS' EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION
In the summer of 1903 a conference was held at
Oxford, consisting of delegates from various labour
and educational organisations, and as a result of
this conference there came into existence the body
which a few years later was rechri&tened the
W.E.A. An authoritative (and, of course, " un-
biased ") account of the aims and methods of the
W.E.A. is given by Albert Mansbridge in An
Adventure in Working -Class Education, being the
Story of the W.E.A., 1903-1915. Mansbridge was
one of the founders, and was general secretary of
the Association from 1905 to 1915. He is, there-
fore, a highly qualified exponent. Let him speak
for himself (1920 edition, p. xi.) :
FALSE ROUTES 49
" The two streams of labour and scholarship
unite to make a great and powerful river of edu-
cation, which must by an unerring law draw to
itself most, if not all, the runnels and rivulets of
thought making their way to the open sea of a free
people. That is, at once, the condition and mean-
ing of the W.E.A. It conforms to the very ideal
of democracy, which preconditions the gathering
up of the true influence of every man, woman, and
child for translation into the terms of the common
Underlying this eloquence is the conception of a
social solidarity that is potential, and already to
some extent actual, in the existing form of society.
Method: " democracy" on the political field;
" the union between labour and learning" on the
educational field ; " friendly relations between em-
ployer and employed " on the industrial field.
Result : the peaceful — if long delayed — building of
the " New Jerusalem in England's green and
Those in touch with the realities of modern life,
those who believe that there is no political alchemy
which can change an industrial or political enemy
into an educational friend, those who hold that
throughout the world of education there is repro-
duced the antagonism which prevails in the world
of production, will have a contrasted summary of
method and result. Method: " ergatocracy " on
the political field; " prerevolutionary Proletcult "
on the educational field; " unremitting struggle"
on the industrial field. Result : strife, until
capitalism has been overthrown ; establishment of
the dictatorship of the revolutionary proletariat;
forcible resistance to the counter-revolution ; post-
revolutionary Proletcult, ultimately leading (in
the only possible way) to a truly universal culture.
More Mansbridge (op. cit., p. xv.) : " The most
educated man is he who most completely fills his
allotted task in spirit and in act, whether it be
the digging of a trench or the writing of a poem."
Comment : Precisely ! The task of the prole-
tariat to-day is (metaphorically speaking) to dig
trenches. The " most educated" proletarian is
the class-conscious proletarian who fits himself by
Independent Working- Class Education for the
immediately allotted task of the proletariat — the
overthrow of bourgeois democracy and the estab-
lishment of communist ergatocracy.
Even Mansbridge is uneasy when he contem-
plates the fugitive splendour of the Mechanics
Institute movement and similar mushroom growths
of nearly a century ago. " The strange and rapid
passing of this movement is due in part to the
overwhelming philanthropic nature of the inspiring
and creative force which made it possible." This
philanthropy is " unfamiliar and repellent to the
sensitive ears of a democratic age." (Op. cit. pp.
2/3). Yet Mansbridge is not free from overwhelm-
ing philanthropy, from an insufferable desire to
" do good," from a note of patronage which grates
on the ear of any modern ergatocrat. He admits
(p. 20) that in its first blossoming as An Associa-
tion to Promote the Higher Education of Working
Men, the W.E.A. was not entirely above the re-
proach of being " an association for making people
good." But, after this brief self-criticism, he goes
on to speak (p. 22) of an " opposition which was
FALSE ROUTES 51
restricted to a few persons who declared that the
Association was a device to sidetrack the attention
of working men and women from their legitimate
But what is the " legitimate movement" oiL
working men and women, and what is their " al-
lotted task"? Even within the W.E.A. the op-
position of those who do not share Albert Mans-
bridge's views on these matters is not always that
of " a few persons." Let us quote William Mellor
(Direct Action, pp. 129/30) : " Fortunately for the
W.E.A. its constitution leaves to the students a
great amount of liberty. . . . They can . . .
manage their own affairs . . . get rid of the
official view and . . . secure that the type of
education given is more revolutionary than would
meet with the approval of the Board of Education,
of the universities, or of many of the supporters
of the W.E.A. But this result is only obtained
by throwing overboard the ' non-political and
non-partisan ' character of the organisation — in
other words, by giving up the pretence that edu-
cation takes no sides. It is, indeed, just in those
places where the official view has least hold, that
the W.E.A. succeeds in securing the support of
the working classes, and in thereby becoming an
efficient instrument of working-class education.
Places like the West Riding of Yorkshire, for in-
stance, have managed to evade most of the regu-
lations designed to keep the W.E.A. in the straight
path, and the workers do control their own edu-
cation." In such cases it will be vain for Mans-
bridge to express his horror at the idea of
" prostituting the educational machinery of the
W.E.A. for political and revolutionary ends"
(letter to "Sunday Times," January 2, 1921).
Despite the clucking of the old hen on the bank,
the duckling brood has taken to the water.
There has been much discussion (Adventure, p.
31), as to the best phrase to denote the funda-
mental purpose of the W.E.A. " Educational
ladder" and "educational corridor" were mooted
and rejected. The term "educational highway"
was ultimately adopted, and " The Highway " is
the name of the monthly organ of the Association.
" Along the broad highway of congenial study,
postman and professor, manual labourer and
university graduate, journey in complete amity "
(" Spectator," July 17, 1920, reviewing Mans-
bridge's book). But whither is your highway to
lead? Bound and round the mulberry bush?
We. are building a new highway too, and it will
lead to a new world. Pur immediate goal is the
THE PLEBS LEAGUE AND THE CENTRAL
Copartnership in education is based on
the same false economics as copartnership
in labour , and they are both false beacons
kindled by the same hand. — " The Plebb
Magazine." (July, 1909, vol. I, No. 6.
EDUCATIONAL WORK OP THE SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY
The S.L.P. was founded at Glasgow in 1903.
Primarily a political party, it was more concerned
with ideas as to the industrial reconstruction of
society than with politics as ordinarily understood.
It was keen on educational work for the diffusion
of these ideas. Thus its principal activities for
many years were educational. It devoted great
attention to establishing an independent press, the
Socialist Labour Press, by which numerous im-
portant reprints and not a few original pamphlets
were issued. These constituted the first textbooks
of the classes for Independent Working-Class
Education in Britain. When Yates left Scotland
and Connolly had gone to America, the Marxist
classes on the Clyde were mainly conducted by
comrades who are still actively interested in In-
dependent Working-Class Education; Tom Clark,
T. Bell, and William Paul. The influence of the
Clyde classes no doubt counted for a good deal in
the events now to be described, and the name of
the Plebs League was suggested by one of the
S.L.P. reprints, Daniel de Leon's Two Pages from
THE RIFT IN THE LUTE AT RUSKIN
The Plebs League and the Labour Colleges are
the most typical British expressions of the spirit
of prerevolutionary Proletcult. It was through
the foundation of the League that British Prolet-
cult became fully aware of its own mission. The
movement for revolutionary education is now
world-wide. But its most effective incorporation
is little more than twelve years old. On November
24, 1908, the Plebs League was founded at Oxford
by a group of Buskin College students who were
dissatisfied with the educational trend of that in-
stitution. At the outset, Buskin College had been
quasi-revolutionary. Walter Vrooman, one* of the
American founders, spoke as follows at the in-
augural meeting in 1899 : " We shall take men
who have been merely condemning our social in-
stitutions, and will teach them instead how to
transform those institutions, so that in place of
talking against the world, they will begin me-
thodically and scientifically to possess the world,
to refashion it, and to cooperate with the power
behind evolution in making it the joyous abode of,
if not a perfected humanity, at least a humanity
earnestly and rationally striving towards perfec-
tion." Quasi-revolutionary aspirations, plus Up-
lift! Could not the prefix to " revolutionary "
PLEBS LEAGUE AND LABOUR COLLEGE 55
have been dropped with the Uplift — after the
Vroomans had departed to the land of their birth,
and when labour elements had been increasingly
associated with Buskin College? Could not the
College have become the first vigorous centre for
revolutionary education? For various reasons,
among which the connection with the university
was perhaps the most potent, things were not to
work out that way. In actual fact, Proletcult was
to materialise as a revolt against the reactionary
tendencies which ere long gained the upper hand
at Buskin College.
When the founders' financial support had been
entirely withdrawn, Buskin College, having lost
its benevolent " patrons, " had to seek other sources
of supply. It appealed to the trade unions for
funds, and was able to get along with trade-union
grants and private subscriptions. It came to be
regarded as a Labour College; and in 1907 the
Parliamentary Committee of the Trade-Union
Congress issued an appeal on its behalf. But at
the very time when the College was securing in-
creased support from organised labour, and when
it had become the exception for any but trade
unionists to enter as students, the governors of the
College were inviting pecuniary aid from private
individuals on the ground that the aim of the
institution was " to give working men a sound
practical knowledge of subjects which concern
them as citizens, thus enabling them to view social
questions sanely, and without unworthy class-
bias." Another appeal states that " Buskin Col-
lege may do something to dissipate the suspicions
which threaten the solidarity of society in England
to-day." It was evident that the social solidarians
were in the saddle, and were determined to ride
the College along the broad highway leading
through the land of industrial peace. But among
the students were men drawn from regions of in-
dustrial strife, and with minds immune to the
virus of " university influence,"
It was inevitable that these men, who from
earliest childhod had been intimately acquainted
with the realities of the class war, should refuse
to accept the economic doctrines of the master
class. Those who had been grounded in the labour
theory of value naturally grew impatient when
they were blandly informed that " wages are the
sacrifice employers have to make in order to get
work done." Such teaching seemed to them hope-
lessly out of date. They had come to Oxford to
fit themselves for service in the labour movement,
and they had to listen to ideas which conflicted
with the basic principles of that movement. It
was obvious to them that the education doled out
to them was being given in the interests of the
bourgeoisie, and gradually there dawned upon
their minds the notion that independence in edu-
cation is no less essential to the working class
than independence on the industrial and political
fields. Some of the students came to constitute at
Ruskin what would nowadays be termed a " ginger
group." In 1907 many of them began to form
classes among themselves for the independent con-
sideration of the subjects which they regarded as
of primary interest. Finally the Plebs League
took shape at Oxford in the latter part of 1908.
The South Wales Wing of the Plebs came into
PLEBS LEAGUE AND LABOUR COLLEGE 57
existence at Cardiff on January 2nd, 1909, at a
meeting convened by students and ex- students of
Ruskin College and a few sympathisers. In Feb-
ruary, 1909, appeared the first issue of " The Plebs
Magazine, " the monthly organ of the League.
THE PLEBS MAGAZINE AND THE PLEBS LEAGUE
The genesis of the Proletcult idea can be best
understood from a study of the early numbers of
the magazine. The object and constitution of the
League are printed on the second page of the cover.
Here, in the first three issues, we read as object :
" to bring about a more satisfactory connection
between Ruskin College and the Labour Move-
ment." In the May, 1909, issue, this clause has
been expunged, and instead, there is a large-type
legend : NOW BEING VOTED UPON. In June
the object has become : "to assist in the forma-
tion of a Central Labour College for working men
and women, at Oxford, and other similar institu-
tions elsewhere, to be controlled by organised
Labour bodies. " In November, 1909, we read in
the same place as object : " to further the interests
of the Central Labour College, for working men
and women, at Oxford, and to assist in the forma-
tion of similar institutions elsewhere, all of these
institutions being controlled by organised Labour
bodies.'' In November, 1911, when all connection
with the university town had been severed, the
words " at Oxford " were replaced by the words
" at London/' >
What was happening in the spring of 1909? A
strike among the students of Euskin College, cen-
tring round the personality of Dennis Hird, Prin-
eipal of the College, who had been compelled by
the governing body to resign. But the substantial
cause of the strike was the dissatisfaction of the
students with the social solidarian character of the
teaching of controversial subjects like economics
and industrial history, and their desire for Inde-
pendent Working- Class Education animated with
the spirit of the class war. The struggle of prin-
ciple crystallised a few weeks later round another
personality, one of the students, George Sims by
name (now secretary of the Labour College), who
was victimised by dismissal from Buskin for the
prominent part he had taken upon the students'
strike committee. Two other students were ex-
pelled shortly afterwards : W. W. Craik, of the
Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, now
Principal of the London Labour College; and B.
McKay, of the United Kingdom Society of Coach-
The formation of the Central Labour College will
be considered in a moment. We must first study
the development of proletarian ideology in the
early issues of the " Plebs Magazine." This
periodical was run entirely by students and ex-
students, and was probably all the more effective
on that account. Dennis Hird was to have been
editor, but the College Executive (this was prior
to the enforced resignation of the principal) de-
cided that no member of the staff was to be as-
sociated in any way with the Plebs League or the
Quite natural was this decision of the social
solidarians, since in the very first number of the
" Plebs" we are editorially informed that the
PLEBS LEAGUE AND LABOUR COLLEGE 59
mission of the League is to ensure workers' con-
trol of the College — not only of finance, but also of
the curriculum — (of course this really meant left-
wing workers' control), and to bring it about that
V the education imparted there shall be of a kind
and a quality capable of application in the interests
of the working class/' The mandate of the League
is to secure " the education of the workers in the
interests of the workers." The aim of the Oxford
influence, in the education given to working-class
students at Euskin College, is, says the March
"Plebs," to produce " the synoptic mind." This
means that " the brains of those who are likely to
lead their fellows are to be surcharged with the
ideas of a class above them, so that their [imagined]
interests may become identical with the interests
of that class." By April, 1909, has come a definite
assertion that "proletarian logic is in perpetual
antagonism with the logic of our rulers." Again,
"no working-class student can undergo a uni-
versity education and come through it untainted."
Yet again, ." university life is the breeding ground
of reaction." Furthermore, anent a proposal to
found a Plebs College in South Wales, " the es-
tablishment of working-class colleges throughout
the country, owned and controlled by the workers
themselves, will do more to hasten the hour of
economic deliverance than anything else we know
of." Is it surprising that this Kake's Progress
towards revolutionary Proletcult should have
frightened the social solidarians; that it should
have led them to dismiss Hird and to victimise
the rebel students, thus accelerating the definite
cleavage in outlook and action which was to cul-
minate in the foundation of the Central Labour
Hence by May, 1909, the object of tfce Plebs
League had to be transformed. It was now " to
assist in the establishing of a new educational
structure definitely controlled by organised la-
bour. " Concurrently, the theory of Proletcult as
expounded in the " Plebs Magazine " becomes even
clearer cut. " The time has arrived when the
working class must control its own education,
when the new structure must be . . . free from
any entangling associations with those who govern
us" (May). " The second day of August will
witness the Declaration of Working-Class Inde-
pendence in Education " (June). " Copartnership
in education is based on the same false economics
as copartnership in labour, and they are both false
beacons kindled by the same hand" (July). The
" gingering-up " of the Plebs policy secured
definite expression in the foundation of the Cen-
tral Labour College as a rival to Ruskin. On the
agenda for the first annual meet of the League,
held in August, 1909, the item of chief importance
was the affirmation of the aforesaid Principle of
Independence in Working-Class Education. Passed
by acclamation, it ran as follows : " This confer-
ence of workers declares that the time has now
arrived when the working class should enter the
educational world to work out its problems for
itself." In conjunction with the foundation of the
Central Labour College, this may be regarded as
the practical inauguration of Proletcult in Britain.
It was probably the first clear manifestation in
any part of the world of the conviction that the
PLEBS LEAGUE AND LABOUR COLLEGE 61
revolutionary workers must supplement political
organisation and mass action by the policy of
Independent Working-Class Education.
THE CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGE
The Plebs League was, and remains, a com-
paratively small propagandist group. It can
supply " ginger"; it can disseminate the " Fer-
ment of Revolution " in the educational field; but
it has neither the numerical strength nor the finan-
cial backing which would enable it to found and
maintain educational institutions. That must be
the work of organised labour. In so far as these
institutions aim at revolutionary education, it
must be the work of the left wing of organised
labour. Some of the great trade unions which had
sent students to Ruskin College were not slow to
support the movement of revolt. British organised
labour as a whole is still far from understanding
the nature of the issues as between the Central
Labour College and Ruskin College, and as between
.the Plebs League and the W.E.A. It is prepared
to give almost undiscriminating support to any-
thing which is entitled to calJ itself " education. "
The amazing assertion of Arthur Greenwood (Cam-
bridge Essays on Adult Education, pp. 122-3) that
" in spite of the divergence of policy and method
between these different agencies they possess a
fundamental unity of aim," still secures credence
from the confusionists. Confusion is perhaps
worse confounded by the teaching of reputed left
wingers like G. D. H. Cole, who tries to establish
an impossible distinction between "education " and
" propaganda " (W.E.A. Year Book, 1918, p. 372).
It is, therefore, not surprising that rival propa-
gandist organisations like the Plebs League and
the W.E.A., rival educational institutions like
Euskin College and the Central Labour College,
should receive the "impartial" support of in-
dividuals and sections in the labour movement.
But the issues are clearing, and the logic of events
will force even the laggards to take a side. Mean-
while the trade-union basis of the Labour College
in London is little more extensive than that of
the original institution founded at Oxford in 1909,
and then known as the Central Labour College.
It was transferred to London in 1911. The name
Labour College instead of Central Labour College
dates only from 1917. Its actual backers and con-
trollers at the present time are the South Wales
Miners' Federation and the National Union of
Eailwaymen, but several other unions maintain
resident students at the College. The Labour Col-
lege (like Euskin College) was closed during the
war. Its activities are now being greatly extended,
and new premises are being arranged for at Kew.
Throughout all the years of its existence, the
Labour College has had no doubt as to its Prolet-
cultural mission. Here are the words of the latest
prospectus. " The Labour College was established
with the object of equipping the organised workers
with the knowledge adequate for the accomplish-
ment of their industrial and political tasks. . . .
Because of the existing economic order of society,
with its inevitable cleavage of classes due to two
distinct economic roles, and the resulting clash of
conflicting interests as it expresses itself in the
struggle between the organised workers and the
PLEBS LEAGUE AND LABOUR COLLEGE 63
owners of capital, the development of social science
has been greatly impeded. . . . Working-class
education must be independent of all the conven-
tional institutions of education, and . . . must
take a partisan form . . . the form of that
class which can alone serve the advancement of
social science, the science which can alone serve the
advancement of that class." Here once again,
though the word proletariat does not appear in the
prospectus, we have an unmistakable proclamation
of the gospel of proletarian culture.
THE FERMENT OF THE WORLD
The workers' vanguard , the party of the
commimists and the bolsheviks, struggles
everywhere, not only for economic freedom,
but for the spiritual liberation of the toil-
ing masses. Hitherto the master class,
by its control of newspapers, books, and
schools, has forged chains for the workers.
Organs of enlightenment have been cleverly
converted into means for dulling the minds
of the people. Economic enfranchisement
will come far more quickly when the
workers of town and country can clear
their minds of the poison of bourgeois
ideology. — Buharin. (Programme of the
World Revolution, Chapter xvii.)
FERRER AND THE MODERN SCHOOLS
Proletcult is a worldwide movement. The new
ideology originates spontaneously wherever the
appropriate economic conditions ripen. This state-
ment does not imply acceptance of the fatalistic
version of Marxism commonly put forward by
opponents of the materialist conception of history.
The essence of Proletcult is the idea that, while
what men think is largely engendered by the ma-
terial conditions of their existence, and above all
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 65
by the dominant types of social production, these
thoughts react upon the material conditions, and
in revolutionary epochs come to exercise a cata-
clysmic transformative influence. During the de-
clining phase of capitalism, the new philosophy of
the proletariat is becoming a decisive factor in the
overthrow of the old order and the upbuilding of
the new. In a brief exposition like the present it
will obviously be impossible to attempt a detailed
survey of the international origins of proletarian
culture, and we must content ourselves with select-
ing a few salient instances. One of the most not-
able of these was the work of the philosophic
anarchist Francisco Ferrer y Guardia, shot at
Barcelona on October 12, 1909, having been sen-
tenced by court martial for alleged complicity in
a rising there. The death of Ferrer and the sup-
pression of the Modern Schools by the Spanish
government, made the movement he had initiated
abortive. But in principle he was working upon
the lines of prerevolutionary Proletcult, as a few
extracts from his writings will show. They are
taken from Joseph McOabe's translation of Fer-
rer's The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School.
In the " Bulletin of the Modern School " (issue
of May 10, 1905), commenting on a recent lecture,
Ferrer wrote : " Sen or relies upon the
State, upon parliament or municipalities, for the
building, equipment, and management of scholastic
institutions. This seems to me a great mistake.
If n^odern pedagogy means an effort towards the
realisation of a new and more just form of so-
ciety; if it means that we propose to instruct the
rising generation in the causes which have brought
about and maintain the lack of social equilibrium ;
if it means that we are anxious to prepare the race
for better days, freeing it from religious Action
and from all idea of submission to an inevitable
socio-economic inequality ; we cannot entrust it to
the State nor to other official organisms which
necessarily maintain existing privileges and sup-
port the laws which at present consecrate the ex-
ploitation of one man by another, the pernicious
source of the worst abuses" (op. cit. pp. 34/5).
. . . " It is true that children of all classes may
attend the Belgian schools; but the instruction
that is given in them is based on the supposed
eternal necessity for a division of rich and poor "
(p. 35). . . ~ " We shall be asked, What are
we to do if we cannot rely on the aid of the State,
of parliament, or municipalities? We must ap-
peal to those whose interest it is to bring about
a reform; to the workers, in the first place" (p.
36). In 1908, Ferrer wrote : " Rulers have always
taken care to control the education of the people;
they know better than any that their power is
based entirely on the schools, and they therefore
insist on maintaining their monopoly."
Many other passages might be quoted to show
how Ferrer had grasped the elements of the Pro-
letcultural idea, and wished to apply it in the
education of the young. In his epilogue on p. 110
McCabe writes : " All that can be questioned is
the teaching of an explicit social creed to children.
Ferrer would have rejoined that there was not a
school in Europe that does not teach an explicit
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 67
THE FRENCH SYNDICALISTS
More definite formulation of Proletcult is found
in the writings of the French syndicalists, and
notably in the works of Edouard Berth, Fernand
Pelloutier, and Hubert Lagardelle. This develop-
ment was more significant than that of Ferrer's
Modern School, for it occurred in a country of
higher capitalist development than Spain, and in
minds dominated by the notion that the mass
action of organised labour was destined to be of
supreme importance in bringing about the social
revolution. We do not wish to underrate the
significance of anarchist contributions to the revo-
lutionary movement. But there will have to be
considerable periods of Proletcult both prerevo-
lutionary and postrevolutionary before most of the
anarchist tenets can become "practical politics."
Berth, in his Dialogues Socialistes (1901), makes
the socialist interlocutor Darville criticise the
" Popular Universities " — French counterparts of
W.E.A. and University Extension activities, now
practically extinct. What is wrong with them,
says Darville, is that they aim at promoting social
peace and class collaboration, whereas what is
essential to working-class progress is education in
the class struggle (p. 2, et seq.). Each class has
its own psychology and its own morality. These
are mainly determined by economic conditions.
The unity of the " people " is a figment (pp. 27/8).
Essentially, the socialist movement is a movement
of proletarian education, of social pedagogy (p. 36).
Lagardelle voices a more explicit demand *for
Independent Working-Class Education in " Le
Mouvement Socialiste" for October, 1906 (article
reprinted as " The School and the Proletariat "
in a volume published in 1911, entitled " Le
Socialisms Ouvrier," pp. 127/31). Laga-rdelle,
too, is criticising the Popular Universities. Their
aim is " to corrupt the popular mind " by educa-
tional influences emanating from the capitalist
State. It is absolutely essential, he contends, that
the proletariat should cultivate its own ideology.
Enough of these foreshadowings of the theory of
Proletcult. In Spain, for the last decade, the re-
action has been so firmly enthroned that little
progress seems to have been made along the lines
sketched by Ferrer, though doubtless in Catalonia
and other regions of advanced industrial develop-
ment the historic processes will ere long assume
the same forms as elsewhere. In France, we learn,
the Communist Party is about to cooperate with
the left wing of organised labour to engage in
educational activities wherein British experience
may prove a useful guide. Let us turn to the
United States, where theory and practice have
been working hand in hand quite as long as in
WORKERS' EDUCATION IN THE AMERICAS
The Band School of Social Science in New York
City was the pioneer institution of its kind in the
States. It is described as " an autonomously
organised educational auxiliary to the socialist
and labour movement of the U.S." It was founded
in the year 1906, and, like Buskin College, was the
outcome of private initiative. The original en-
dowments have been withdrawn. At the present
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 69
time nearly half the cost of maintenance is sup-
plied by tuition fees; literature sales help the
finances ; the balance of many thousands of dollars
a year has to be raised by contributions. The chief
courses are in the social sciences — history, political
science, and economics. Great attention is devoted
to English and to public speaking. The former of
these two subjects demands especial care, in view
of the polyglot sources of the stream of American
immigration; a common tongue is essential to a
common culture, be that culture bourgeois or
proletarian. The programme of the Rand School
is less explicitly class conscious and class war in
its tone than that of the British Labour Colleges.
It must be remembered that in the U.S. the left
wing of the industrial and political movement has
been driven underground by the forces of capitalist
reaction. The independent labour educationists
have to walk warily. But the Rand School has
been the subject of hostile attention from
" patriotic " mobs and from the powers-that-be,
and it is a more advanced body than is super-
ficially apparent. The students attending its
classes now number about 5,000 annually.
In 1911 a Modern School was founded in New
York City in commemoration of Francisco Ferrer
— beginning with one pupil and one teacher. It
is conducted on Ferrer's educational principles.
In 1916 it was transferred to Stelton, New Jersey.
This is for child education, a boarding-school for
libertarian training. It has its place in the present
volume inasmuch as it is a self-governing school
for proletarian children, is under proletarian con-
trol, and is imbued ufrith the proletarian spirit.
At the same time it is extraordinarily advanced in
its pedagogic methods, the education being guided
by the discoveries of the New Psychology. It is
co-educational and combines manual with mental
training. It publishes a monthly magazine, " The
Modern School/ ' which is now printed by the
pupils. We doubt whether a finer example of a
Proletcultural school can be found even in Soviet
During the last few years, all over the States,
educational movements have been arising under
the direct impulsion of organised labour. One of
the first of these originated in 1914 in connection
with the International Ladies' Garment Workers'
Union, which runs a Workers' University in New
York City and is also in close touch with the Rand
School. This union organised educational classes
for all its members during a recent strike. The
unions of the clothing industry are industrial in
structure. They are largely dominated by the
Jewish mind, which is alert, eager for informa-
tion, open to new ideas. The progress in these
branches of industry is illustrative both of the
causes and the effects of adult education on the
workers. In 1918, there was formed in New York
a United Labour Education Committee, to which
more than 30 unions are affiliated. This body
conducts classes in economics, industrial history,
correction of accent (see above!), socialism, etc.
It cooperates with the Rand School, and has prac-
tically divorced its activities from the public school
system. That is to say, it is out for Independent
Working-Class Education. Its classes are held in
union headquarters. It accepts no contributions
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 71
from individuals, nor from any but labour or-
For lack of space, a still briefer survey is all that
can be taken of post-war developments in other
states of the American LTnion. The Pennsylvania
Federation of Labour' has since May, 1920, had
its own "Department of Education." (The
American revolutionary will is prone to find ex-
pression in somewhat grandiloquent titles !) Its
labour colleges and classes are strictly under union
control, but its "instructors are recruited from
the more liberal and sympathetic local university
professors. " This has a somewhat W.E.A.-ish
llavour. But, as with the Tutorial Classes in
Britain, the influence of the new spirit is strong.
The two- hour class consists not only of lectures
from on high, but of disquisitions by the students,
with " quiz and discussion." And it is satisfactory
to learn that whereas at first the classes mostly
met in the State schoolrooms, the use of these
rooms has of late " been refused by the different
school boards, although not a single charge was
ever brought against any of the students, in-
The Chicago Classes of the joint committee of
the Chicago Federation of Labour and the Women's
Trade Union League of Chicago are run in co-
operation with the State Board of Education and
must presumably be of a Pink complexion. Bos-
ton, on the other hand, though it is the fount of
highbrow "culture" in the States, is more ad-
vanced than the industrial metropolis of Illinois.
The Trade Union College under the auspices of
the Boston Central Labour Union was organised
immediately after the war " to prepare the workers
of New England for the role of increasing im-
portance which labour is to play in the new social
order. . . . No financial help from the State
Board of Education, from University Extension,
or from rich benefactors, has been accepted, al-
though it has more than once been tentatively
offered." The college is open to all wage workers,
whether affiliated to the American Federation of
Labour or not.
A few additional quotations must suffice to in-
dicate how widespread, and on the whole how
sound in direction, is the movement for Independ-
ent Working-Class Education in the U.S. The
Cooperative Movement conducts three schools in
New York, and these schools publish a monthly
journal "Cooperative Education." Another
periodical, "Cooperation," writes of the schools:
" These pioneer student bodies are doing the most
radical thing which has been done in education
since the free public school was established."
(One gathers that in America, as in Britain, the
cooperative movement, though cooperator con-
scious, is not as yet fully class conscious).
The Workers' College of Seattle, founded in
1919, is housed in "The Labour Temple." At
first it was unduly influenced by the State Uni-
versity, from which the teachers were drawn. " In
the case of one or two of the professors this teach-
ing and influence were offensive to the workers."
The College now runs its own show, and it sums
up in the following terms its conception of labour
education : " Education in our universities and
colleges is essentially capitalistic, in that it glori-
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 73
ties competition and seeks to produce an efficient
individual. Education that may be properly called
labour education is essentially socialistic, in that
it glorifies cooperation and seeks to produce an
efficient industrial and social order." (From
Bourgeoiscult to Proletcult, in fact!). At the
1920 Convention of the Wisconsin State Federation
of Labour, the Executive reported : " On certain
controversial subjects, such as labour history, co-
operative and governmental enterprises, it may be
found necessary, even desirable, that unionists
should organise their own classes and employ
teachers whom they can trust to give them facts."
Enough ! The ferment of revolutionary educa-
tion is at work throughout the American Union.
From the British colonies we have, so far, less
encouraging information. The social solidarians
have taken time by the forelock. Albert Mans-
bridge made a world tour in 1913 and was in-
strumental in establishing W.E.A. branches in
various parts of Australia and Canada. But there
are gleams of light from these darker regions of
the world. A Labour College and Proletcult
Group, adopting the Plebs League constitution,
statement of aims, etc., a spontaneous growth of
the vital impetus of creative revolution, has lately
come to life in Ontario. Groups of left-wing
socialists in Australia, South Africa, and New
Zealand, run classes which are in touch with the
Plebs League. The Australian railwaymen have
issued a special edition of W. W. Craik's Short
History of the Modern Working -Glass Movement,
referring to it in their preface as " the admirable
textbook by the Principal of the Labour College/'
No more than scrappy information can be given
regarding Proletcult in the vast areas of Spanish
America. The two countries where capitalist de-
velopment and proletarianisation are most ad-
vanced, Mexico and Argentina, are the seats of
extensive proletarian educational activities. In
Mexico, which as a whole is moving in a socialist
direction, there is a Labour College in Mexico City,
supported by the Federation of Syndicates (i.e.
Trade Unions). It aims at the establishment
of schools for workers throughout the country,
".thus laying the foundation of scientific working-
class education in Mexico." But it does not appear
that this is class-conscious education.
In Argentina the Socialist Party is reformist,
and has refused to affiliate to the Third Inter-
national. The Party is extremely active in the
educational field, but its views on education are
nowise revolutionary. It cooperates with an edu-
cational body called the Sociedad Luz [Light],
founded in 1899, whose ideas resemble those of the
W.E.A. But there are two distinctive features of
all this working-class instruction in Argentina :
it is strongly anti-clerical and rationalist ; and an
anti-alcohol campaign is a perennial activity. By
the rules of the Socialist Party every branch must
have a branch library, and must keep it up-to-
date. There are about two hundred such libraries.
In Buenos- Ayres there is an extensive Workers'
Library which receives trade-union support. Un-
fortunately we have no information as to Prolet-
cnltural work on the part of the left-wing or-
ganisation which was until recently known as the
International Socialist Party of the Argentine
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 75
Republic, but which has now become the Argentine
Section of the Communist International.
GERMANY : 1, THEORY
This book is mainly concerned with Proletcult
in Britain. The postrevolutionary Proletcult of
Russia will be the theme of a special chapter. In
another chapter, where the educational work of
the Young Communist movement will be discussed,
the activities of various groups of foreign comrades
will receive attention. For the rest, in this sketch
of a sketch — there is no space for more — of the
ferment of the world revolution, the only other
country which can be considered in any detail is
Germany. German theory and German practice
of Proletcult deserve the closest study. With
characteristic Teutonic thoroughness those among
the German communists who have recognized the
fundamental importance of Independent Working -
Class Education are applying themselves to the
discovery of the right principles of application.
Some of them have been in close touch with
Moscow and Petrograd since the first All-Russian
Proletcult Congress was held in the autumn of
1918. Recognising from the start the differences
between Proletcult in its prerevolutionary and its
postrevolutionary phase, they have founded an
" Initiative Committee" for the working out of
Proletcultural problems in a land that has just
achieved a spurious revolution. The ideas of this
committee may be summarised as follows.
1. Owing to the increasing intensity of the class
struggle in Germany, the forces of the proletariat
must be mobilised in every possible way. Thus
only can the workers make headway against the
counter-revolution. 2. Press, school, cinema,
church, and literature, all the so-called cultural
institutions, are weapons in the bourgeois arsenal,
and are used by the bourgeoisie to paralyse the
revolutionary impetus of the toilers. Conse-
quently, bourgeois ideology is dominant, even
among the ranks of the organised workers. 3.
The proletariat must use the same weapons against
the bourgeoisie, must array a front of proletarian
culture against the forces of bourgeois culture.
The day of the victory of the workers will draw
nearer in proportion as the masses become ideo-
logically independent of the sinister mental influ-
ences of capitalism. 4. For the conquest of power,
the workers must make themselves acquainted,
from their own specific outlook, with all the
problems of industrial and political life. Other-
wise, the bourgeois intellectuals will be able to
sabotage the revolution in innumerable ways. For
the right use of power, preparatory educational
work is essential. 5. The social revolution does
not merely imply a new method in economics, a
soviet system, and the dictatorship of the prole-
tariat. It involves in addition the establishment
of a new culture, proletarian, by origin, and sub-
sequently the first universal culture of mankind.
The beginnings of this culture are already mani-
fest. It will revolutionise education, ethics, the
press, art and science, the whole of public and
private life. The immediate task of the proletariat,
as the initiator of this new culture, is to assemble
its creative energies for the unification and diffu-
sion of Proletcult, 6, Germany needs a centralised
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 77
Proletcultural League, supported by the organised
workers, collaborating with and unifying the ac-
tivities of all the bodies engaged in promoting
Independent Working-Class Education. A Con-
ference must be summoned as soon as possible to
draw up a joint programme of Proletcult.
GERMANY : 2, PRACTICE
We are by no means enamoured of the proverbial
wisdom contained in the adage, An ounce of
practice is worth a pound of theory. It is because
the theories of the Plebs League and the philosophy
of the Labour Colleges are right that their prac-
tice "gets there " every time. It is because the
theory of the W.E.A. and the philosophy of the
Tutorial Classes are wrong that the tendency of
these organisations is to fill the bellies of the
workers with east wind. But the Germans are
skilful practitioners as well as sound theorists. In
Berlin there is a body called the Ratebund or
Soviet League, which runs a publishing house of
its own. Its main activities, however, are educa-
tional. It has Rateschulen or Soviet Schools based
upon occupational groups ; and it issues a number
of Ratelehrbucher or Soviet Textbooks. From one
of these, Fritz Fricke's Die Ratcbildung im Klas-
scnJcampf der Gegenwart (Soviet Culture in the
Class Struggle To-day), a clear idea can be formed
of the principles and methods of the organisation.
The preface, written in October, 1920, would form
an excellent Proletcult leaflet for any land of
advanced capitalistic development, and would be
especially suitable for distribution in Adult Schools
and W.E.A. Tutorial Classes. " Members of the
bourgeois parties, bourgeois educationists, present
themselves in the form of educational pimps,
firmly convinced that a stew compounded of all
the ingredients of bourgeois culture is precisely
what the workers need. ... But proletarian
cultural institutions must no longer aim at stuffing
the minds of the workers with a vague ' general
knowledge.' The knowledge requisite is that which
will enable the workers to realise communism.
. . . Everything must be presented in the per-
spective of the class struggle. . . . Soviet
Schools, therefore, have a very different task from
that which has hitherto been performed by such
bodies as the Adult Schools. ... In these
hard days we must turn out, not proletarian
polymaths but proletarian warriors. "
In the body of the book, the aims of this Soviet
Culture are summarised as follows : (1) training
of the workers for the unwearied occupation of
all positions of power open to them within the
capitalist system, or which they can conquer for
themselves within that system ; (2) training of the
workers with an eye to their responsibilities for
the tasks of production and administration they
will have to perform in the new social order; (3)
the development of a proletarian intelligentsia,
not to form a favoured labour caste, but to consist
of a selection of especially competent workers, who
will concentrate upon the effective waging of the
class war. After the revolution the members of
this proletarian intelligentsia will be able to devote
themselves to the work of stabilising the gains of
It is not necessary to give details concerning
FERMENT OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION 79
subjects of study and methods of instruction in
the Soviet Schools. London could learn from Ber-
lin, and Berlin from London ; but, substantially,
kindred minds faced by the same problems are
working out the same solutions in Britain and in
Germany. There, as here, the worst foes are per-
haps those who claim to be of our own household,
those who want to " do good" to the workers by
showering upon them the gifts of an " impartial "
culture. Such a culture, permeated with bourgeois
ideology, w T ould appear to be given by most of the
Popular High Schools which have come into exist-
ence all over Germany since the revolution.
" Doubtless," writes Fricke in conclusion, " there
is requisite a general elevation of the cultural
level of the working class. But such elevation
must be sharply differentiated from the culture
that bears a bourgeois complexion. It is only pos-
sible to achieve this through the accommodation of
all our cultural endeavours to the requirements
of the class struggle."
PROLETCULT IN CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH
One of the chief tasks of the educator
is to safeguard the child from noxious sug-
gestions. To preserve it from all sugges-
tions is quite impossible. Suggestion is
normal and necessary. Education as a
whole is nothing but the application of sug-
gestion.— Charles Baudouin. (Tolstoi Edu-
cateur, p. 168.)
The Young Socialist movement is an organised
attempt to counteract the noxious suggestions of
capitalist schools and the capitalist environment
by suggestions of a converse trend. In a pamphlet
published in 1918 (Independent Workingdass
Education), the present writers outlined an edu-
cational policy for the workers which was to take
the form of " contracting out " of State education.
Let the great industrial unions take over the whole
function of forming the minds of the children of
their members, borrowing boldly for this purpose
and turning to their own account the latest achieve-
ments of the educational science which had been
worked out under the existing order, and which
the master class, a prey to routinism, was so slow
to adopt. Let the workers institute their own
infant schools on Montessori lines, establish New
PROLETCULT IN CHILDHOOD & YOUTH 81
Schools for libertarian education, and with the aid
of the Young Socialist movement continue the ap-
plication of socialist or communist influences after
the ordinal school age had been outgrown. Such
an experiment in Independent Education was
begun in Spain by the ill-fated Ferrer. A Ferrer
Modern School similar to the one in New Jersey,
U.S.A., is being opened in London as we write.
Such experiments in Independent Education have
recently been made in Austria by the Friends of
Children and by the Proletarian School Com-
munity. In Russia, the communist State is able
to educate the whole nation for communism.
Should the revolutionary crisis be long delayed in
western lands, some such policy as we outlined
may yet have to be adopted on a large scale. But
meanwhile we have to consider what is actually
being done to counteract the noxious educational
suggestions of a capitalist environment and of
bourgeois State education. In this country there
is a considerable and growing movement for the
establishment of part-time schools in which, during
and shortly after school age, the socialist or com-
munist mentality may be instilled into the children
of the workers.
THE SOCIALIST SUNDAY SCHOOL
AND THE PROLETARIAN SCHOOL
Socialist Sunday Schools were among the first
definitely organised attempts to counteract the in-
fluence of capitalist State education. The pioneer
S.S.S. in Britain was opened by Mary Gray in
Battersea during the year 1892. Two years later,
Tom Anderson started a Socialist Sunday School
in Glasgow. The Socialist Sunday School move-
ment in the U.S. was certainly contemporaneous
with, if not anterior to this. Berenberg, writing
in May, 1920, refers to the Americans as having
been at work on these lines for " at least thirty
years." On both sides of the Atlantic, such schools
date from the nineties.
At present in Britain the S.S.S. movement is
in the hands of the social solidarians and not in
those of such men as Islwyn Nicholas and Tom
Anderson, exponents of the class war and of pro-
letarian philosophy. " Undenominational re-
ligious" influences are even more conspicuously
at work in the S.S.S. than in the Adult School
movement. Great play is made with abstractions
which are as much beyond the grasp of the childish
intelligence as are the nature of the Trinity, the
differential calculus, or the materialist conception
of history. The subtitle of " The Young Socialist "
is " A Magazine of Justice and Love." In the last
number to be issued before Christmas, 1920, we
read an appeal on behalf of justice for every one,
" not justice for this class or that class only, but
justice for all classes." An excellent sentiment —
•when we have done away with the fundamental
injustice involved in the very existence ot a class
that lives by ownership. In the classless State, it
will be superfluous ; in the class State the demand
for it confuses the issues of the class struggle. The
champions of the S.S.S. movement are sincere in
their desire to undo, be it by ever so little, the
harm done by the capitalist and imperialist at-
mosphere of the State schools. But their own
ideology is petty bourgeois ; and it is not altogether
PROLETCULT IN CHILDHOOD & YOUTH 83
surprising that, as they complain, their activities
should be cold-shouldered by the adult workers'
movement. Revolutionary communists, at any
rate, who study the S.S.S. literature, cannot es-
cape a feeling of impatience at so much talk of
love and good wishes. They angrily exclaim (with
John S. Clarke in " The Awakened Bear, a Bol-
shevik Ballad ") :
The warfare of the classes isn't honey or molasses,
And you'll need a sharper weapon than a kiss.
What, then, are we to do in the case of children?
Are we, when we can get hold of some of them
for an hour or two once a week, to indoctrinate
them with the class war, to teach them to patter
the shibboleths of Marxist socialism? Ferrer, in
the work already quoted, wrote sagely upon this
point : "I venture to say quite plainly : the op-
pressed and exploited have a right to rebel, because
they have to reclaim their rights until they enjoy
their full share in the common patrimony. The
Modern School, however has to deal with children,
whom it prepares by instruction for the state of
manhood, and it must not anticipate the cravings
and the hatreds, the adhesions and rebellions,
which may be fitting sentiments in the adult.
. . . Let it teach the children to be men ; when
they are men, they may declare themselves rebels
It will be much easier for children, when they
are grown up, to declare themselves rebels against
injustice, if they have been trained in such an
institution as the Modern School. At the Fifth
Annual Convention of the Modern School Associa-
tion of North America, when the relation of the
Association to labour organisations was being
considered, one of the speakers pointed out that
in the usual system of State education the first
process of poisoning the mind of the individual
begins at a very early age; and that by the time
the child has spent four or five years at the or-
dinary school it is ready to accept the lies of the
capitalist press, pulpit, theatre, art, and every
form of publicity which has for its aim the main-
tenance of the present system of inequality. But
the poison cannot be counteracted by premature
indoctrination with the class war, any more than
by glib phrases concerning justice and love. Young
folk are quite uninterested in these high-sounding
abstractions. At the Stelton school there was a
magazine for the children entitled " The Path of
Joy." But in accordance with the principle of
libertarian education, the editorship and printing
of this periodical have recently been entrusted to
the pupils. They have renamed it " Us Kids " !
Critics of the S.S.S. movement in the States tell
us that it has undertaken an almost impossible
pedagogical task, and that " these enthusiasts
ultimately succumb to lack of information in
pedagogy and psychology." And yet, pending the
revolution, if the proletariat cannot " contract
out" of State education in the way suggested at
the beginning of this chapter, something must be
done for the children of the workers on the S.S.S.
lines, but without the "S.S.S. spirit" — which is
but a juvenile form of the W.E. A. spirit ! The
Proletarian School for Children and Grown-TJps,
founded in 1918, is an excellent counterblast to the
PROLETCULT IN CHILD HOOD & YOUTH 85
hazy sentimentalisin of the S.S.S. Tom Ander-
son's activities in this field have attracted the
unfavourable attention of the "Spectator" and
the British Empire Union, which is sufficient to
show that in many respects they must be well
directed ! The movement has a good hold in Scot-
land and Wales, and is making its way in the
Midlands and the South. But the psychology of
" Red Dawn," the monthly organ of the Pro-
letarian School, is the psychology of the young
adult, and not the psychology of the child. Pro-
letcult for the young must be more ready than
Bourgeoiscult for the young has yet proved, to
avail itself of the latest advances in educational
science. From educationists of the type of Adolphe
Ferriere, for instance, from his Revolutionise the
School (1920) and his many other writings, and
from such books as Faria's A New School in Bel-
gium, they must learn to apply, not merely the
great principle of libertarian education, but the
principle of making the proper appeal to the
child's interests as these develop at successive ages.
They must not in children from 7 to 12, when the
interests are direct, specialised, and concrete, en-
deavour to present the simple abstract interests
proper to children of from 13 to 15, or the complex
abstract interests proper to young people of from
16 to 18. In a word, they must not " teach "
young children abstract communism and the class
war, any more than they should " teach " them
the abstract inanities of the Athanasian creed.
To live communism is another matter. But that
privilege is at present reserved for the happy
children of Soviet Russia.
The first requisite for the young educational
movement in this country is to link it up with
other organisations for left-wing education, such
as the Plebs League and the various local councils
for Independent Working-Class Education. The
Labour Colleges can also be interested in the work,
and ere long will be in a position to supply teachers
grounded in the New Psychology and the newer
educational methods. The next step, or a simul-
taneous step, must be to link up more effectively
with some of our continental comrades who are
undertaking the communist education of workers'
children bv sounder methods than have as vet been
applied in Britain. The more advanced state of
continental psychology in the field of educational
practice can be learned from the opening numbers
of •" Der Junge Genosse" (the Young Comrade),
a bi-monthly which is now reaching us from Ber-
lin, and from articles in " Die Junge Schweiz "
(Young Switzerland), the organ of the Swiss
Students. Though Switzerland is a bourgeois re-
public, a capitalist State, it must be remembered
that the Swiss students are among the most
revolutionary in the world, and that Switzerland
is the pioneer country in the science of education.
The Proletarian Schools of Britain could learn
much from the Proletarische Schulgemeinde (Pro-
letarian School Community) of Vienna.
SOCIALIST AND COMMUNIST YOUTH
This topic deserves a volume to itself. His-
torically the Young Socialist movement on the
continent is closely associated with the gradual
emergence of the Proletcultural idea. In con-
PROLETCULT IN CHILDHOOD & YOUTH 87
scrip tionist countries, notably in Belgium, the
Young movement tended at the outset to assume
a predominantly anti- militarist form; but it was
essentially educational as well, an attempt to
produce a steadfast socialist mentality in lads
before they were seized by the capitalist military
machine. If events move slowly, it will un-
doubtedly be important to institute some such
comprehensive scheme of educational propaganda.
The difficulties of direct communist propaganda
among the military and naval forces of the bour-
geois State are well-nigh insuperable. But the
permeation of these forces with nuclei of con-
vinced communists able to act inconspicuously as
centres of revolutionary education and influence,
cannot fail to have a good effect.
Actually at the present time the Young move-
ment takes three different forms : that of Pink
organisations under the direction of the social
democratic parties which hold aloof from the Third
International ; that of Red organisations imbued
with the spirit of the Third International; and
that of socialist and communist students and ex-
students at the universities. The two former are
proletarian in status, although from the outlook
of this volume only the Communist Youth is dis-
tinctively Proletcultural in trend. The members
of the students' groups are bourgeois and semi-
bourgeois in status, but are refreshingly revolu-
tionary in their ideology. It is noteworthy that
even in Britain, the University Socialist Federa-
tion, though " socialist " in name, grows ever more
clearly " communist " in outlook. It " is founded
on the basis of the class war, to which all its
members are committed. It seeks to train its
members to assist and take part in the proletarian
movement." (This statement was issued to the
Congress of Socialist and Communist Students
held at Geneva in December, 1919. The aim of the
British U.S.F. delegates in issuing it was expressly
to dissociate themselves from the German Majority
Socialists at the Congress), At present, Social
Democrats and Communists remain grouped in a
single Students' International. But the position
is becoming untenable. A year ago, reporting to
the U.S.F. on the Geneva Congress, the British
delegates declared that " those who maintain the
orthodox socialist position [i.e., the principles of
the old social democracy on the continent, and
those of the socialist members of the Parliamentary
Labour Party in this country] are rapidly becom-
ing identified w r ith the reactionary elements inside
the socialist movement."
In Britain, there is no clear-cut Young Socialist
or Young Communist movement. The activities,
and in especial the educational activities, under-
taken by such bodies in continental Europe, are
performed by organisations like the Proletarian
School, the Young Socialist League, and the Plebs
League. Time will show whether there is per-
manent need for distinctive " Young " organisa-
tions in each of the three chief fields of communist
activity ; the industrial, the political, and the edu-
cational. Here in Britain the Young Socialist
league and the Young Labour League have just
decided to amalgamate as the Young Workers'
League affiliated to the Young Communist Inter-
national. Anything is good which tends to pre-
PROLETCULT IN CHILDHOOD & YOUTH 89
vent the dispersal of revolutionary energy ; but an
attempt to " unite" hopelessly conflicting trends
can only retard progress. Our own view favours
the idea of three distinctive Eed Internationals :
the Third International coordinating the political
communist movement ; the Red Trade-Union Inter-
national for the industrial movement; and $ Red
International for revolutionary education or Pro-
le tcult. Each of these could have its " Young "
section. But the younger members of the move-
ments have a vigorous and commendable desire for
independence of the tutelage of their seniors.
At Berlin, in the end of November, 1919, there
was held a Congress of the International of Youth.
The Congress aimed at the unification of the Red
side of the Young movement under the aegis of
the Third International. It established the
Executive Committee of the Young Communist
International, which issues a tri-monthly periodical
in English, French, and German, the " Corres-
pondence of the Young" International " ; and a
monthly in German, Russian, Swedish, and Italian
" The Young International." A full account of
the Berlin Congress, and much additional infor-
mation concerning the Young movement generally,
will be found in Nos. 11 and 12 of the " Communist
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA
Education in Russia to-day is one form
of the class struggle. — William Mellor.
(Direct Action, p. 127.)
LUNACHARSKY, ULIANOVA, AND POLIANSKY
Lunacharsky is Commissar for Education in Soviet
Russia. He has expounded his theory of Prolet-
cult in an essay entitled The Cultural Tasks of the
Working Glass: Universal Culture and Class Cul-
ture. This was published in Russia in 1918, and
a German translation was issued in Berlin im-
mediately after the armistice. An abridged trans-
lation, " Working-Class Culture/' appeared in the
" Plebs Magazine " for October and November,
1920. For Lunacharsky, proletarian culture is
but the first stage. He is himself a humanist
rather than a proletarian. " Humanity is march-
ing irresistibly towards the internationalisation of
culture." But we are still in the stage of national
cultures and class cultures. Russia as a nation
and the proletariat as a class have a supremely
important part to play in the elaboration of what
will ultimately become a universal culture. Primi-
tive culture was universal. The culture of the
classless world of the future will be universal. All
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 91
the intermediate phases of culture have been the
apanage of class, and proletarian culture can be
no exception to the rule. Moreover, the proletarian
must build upon the past. He must not, in his
haste say, " To the devil with all bourgeois cul-
ture. " He must not destroy the old temple in
order to build up a perfectly new one.
Thus universalist in his outlook, Lunacharsky
is not an enthusiast for the fighting culture which
we have termed prer evolutionary Proletcult. He
recognises the need for this " highly specialised
class culture, fashioned in conflict." But he is
glad that his own lot is cast in postrevolutionary
Russia, where he can consecrate his energies ^o
the task of building the educational New Jeru-
salem, while Lenin makes moves upon the diplo
ma tic chessboard, and Trotsky with the Red Army
guards the frontiers against the hordes of capitalist
Europe and repels the onslaughts of the counter-
revolution. We do not mean to imply that
Lunacharsky could not show fight. None of the
bolshevist leaders, none of the bolshevist rank and
file, are pacifists, for pacifism is premature at this
stage of the world's history. We conceive that
Lunacharsky, like Archimedes during the siege of
Syracuse, might have been willing to devote his
powers to the designing of engines of war ; but we
conceive also that in the sack of the city he would,
like Archimedes, have lost his life in a fit of ab-
sence of mind, exclaiming to one of the invading
Kolchakists, " Don't disturb my circles! " Never-
theless, the writer of the preface to the German
edition of the above-quoted essay describes him as
" one of the greatest intellectual forces alive in the
world to-day." Pokroffsky, his second in com-
mand, professor of history under the old regime,
is perhaps the most active organiser of the new
education in Russia.
Ulianova (Lenin's wife) is one of Lunaeharsky's
most enthusiastic collaborators. Her views are
summarised in the thesis she presented to the first
All-Russian Proleteult Conference. At that time
the bolsheviks, despite their disappointment the
previous autumn, still believed the European
revolution to be imminent. We trust it is.
Perchance Europe does indeed " stand on the
eve of the social revolution," though the mills
of fate are grinding somewhat tnore slowly than
many of us hoped in the last year of the war.
Russia, at any rate, must prepare for either
eventuality; for the temporary restabilisation of
western capitalism, or for the conditions that will
result from its final destruction. In Russia
" children must be educated for the conditions
under which they have to live. The rising genera-
tion will have to live in a socialist society, and
consequently needs a socialist education, a so-
cialistic school." The overthrow of the exploiting
class, the unification of social life in Russia, has
rendered it possible to institute a unified system
of schooling, to throw knowledge open to all, to
develop to the uttermost the mental and physical
capabilities of every Russian child. By socialist
education it will be possible to realise Engels'
description of socialism as " & leap from the realm
of coercion to the realm of freedom." These prin-
ciples of educational enfranchisement are now
being practically realised in Soviet Russia.
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 93
Poliansky is the responsible director of advanced
education in Soviet Russia. His account of Pro-
letcult as a definite educational organisation with
a membership of over 300,000, will be found in
" The Plebs " for January, 1921. But for his con-
ception of Proletcult as a theory and a method we
turn by preference to his thesis presented to the
Proletcult Conference, and reproduced in the
October, 1920, issue of the German monthly " Sow-
jet." Much more explicitly than Lunacharsky
or Ulianova, Poliansky expounds Proletcult on
Marxist lines. " The masses have been infected
with petty bourgeois and anarchistic sentiments;
their minds have been poisoned with capitalistic
bourgeois culture. The only antidote to this poison
is an independent and strictly working-class cul-
ture. . . . Cultural independence for the pro-
letariat must be our watchword. . * . Whereas
formerly the labour movement has developed in
the political and economic struggle, a third form
of struggle, that of revolutionary education, has
now become essential. This must be no less in-
dependent than the other two." Poliansky shows,
as we ourselves indicated on pp. 26-7, how feudalism
had its own class culture and philosophy, which
was religious and authoritarian; and how the
French Revolution was based upon a new ideology,
that of the individualist philosophers of the rising
bourgeois class. The rise of socialism will be
signalised by the growth of yet another culture,
the socialist culture of the proletariat. The work
of the new enlightenment has two provinces ; one
simply instructive, the other creative and revolu-
tionary. In Russia, where there has been so little
" popular education" even of the capitalist kind,
the work of elementary instruction is a titanic
task. But important as this is, it pales in sig-
nificance when compared with the work of creative
revolution, with the development of the new pro-
letarian ideology in art, ethics, and science. The
Russian proletariat has to create its own culture,
which will be sharply distinguished from the cul-
ture of capitalistic countries. " The material vic-
tory over the bourgeoisie must be followed up by
a spiritual victory." More than two years ago,
in an article published by " Le Populaire " (Jan.
20, 1919), Maxim Gorky declared that the creative
cultural work of the Russian government had be-
gun to leap forward in a way unprecedented in
human history. Its magnificence, he said, would
not fail to arouse the admiration of future his-
The most uncompromising, and unquestionably
the most interesting, among the Russian theorists
of Proletcult is Bogdanoff. We have not had the
advantage of consulting the Russian original of
his essay on Science and the Working Glass, but
an excellent German translation was published last
year in Berlin. This pamphlet, to quote the trans-
lator's introduction, proclaims " the certain truth
that proletarian philosophy will bring salvation to
Bogdanoff opens with a definition of science. It
is the organised experience of the human working
fellowship. Science, he holds, originated in the
practical needs of the working life, as a weapon
PKOLETCULT IN RUSSIA 95
in the struggle for existence. Astronomy, for
example, was indispensable to the early agricul-
turists, to enable them to regulate their seasonal
occupations. Only at a later stage, when civilisa-
tion had assumed the forms of class differentiation
which still persist to-day, was this science with-
drawn from the common folk to become the pri-
vilege of a priestly caste, which used it as a means
for maintaining itself in power. Since unremitting
toil is the lot of the lower class, while leisure is
an exclusive advantage of the upper class, these
conditions of class segregation, in conjunction
with the artificial complications of much " upper-
class " science, resulted in transforming all the
sciences from means for the organisation of labour
into means for perpetuating class rule. Even
philosophy, most abstract of the sciences, has been
subject to the same law of development.
But if the old science is an instrument of upper-
class dominion, the proletariat must counteract
this influence with its own science, as a means for
the revolutionary struggle. It must do this, says
Bogdanoff, not merely after the social revolution,
but before the revolution, and in order to effect the
overthrow of the old order. It cannot simply
adopt bourgeois science, which often exercises a
corrupting and stultifying influence, and which in
any case darkens counsel by its needless com-
plexity. The proletariat requires a proletarian
science. " I mean, a science formulated, under-
stood, and expounded from the working-class out-
look ; a science competent to enable the working
class to realise its own aims; a science which
organises forces for the victory of communion."
But is there really such a thing as " proletarian
science "? Is not culture universal? Far from it,
answers Bogdanoff. In a class society, science is
determined by the class outlook. A typical in-
stance is economics. There are two sciences of
economics. Orthodox and professorial economics
is the economics of the master class. This was
preeminently " economic science " ; until Marx
came along and wrote a new economics, proletarian
economics, the science as envisaged from the
standpoint of the producers instead of from that
of the exploiters. And behold, from the new out-
look of proletarian science, much that had been
obscure was made plain to the understanding of
the common man and woman. The change was as
fundamental as that which had been worked in
astronomy three and a half centuries before by
Copernicus. Earlier astronomers, studying the
movements of the planets from the outlook of the
Earth, and desiring to explain the erratic character
of the observed motions, had been compelled to
invent systems of extraordinary complexity " cycle
on epicycle, orb in orb." Copernicus, transferring
himself in imagination from the Earth as centre
of the moving system to the Sun as centre, sub-
stituting the heliocentric theory for the geocentric
theory, effected an amazing simplification. No less
vital was the change, no less astounding was the
simplification, effected by Marx in substituting the
economic outlook of the producer for that of the
exploiter, the economic outlook of the proletarian
for that of the capitalist. The change applied
even to the self-evident. For what can seem more
self-evident to the capitalist than that he supports
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 97
the worker? And what can seem more self-evident
to the class-conscious worker, instructed in the
elements of Marxist economics, than that he sup-
ports the capitalist? Now Marx, having recog-
nised that the economic outlook was fundamentally
different according to the social class from which
the phenomena were viewed, went further, and
made a great generalisation. The fundamental
difference did not concern economics alone. The
historic mission of the proletariat was to effect a
transformation in all human outlooks, a trans-
formation based upon the class consciousness of
the workers. Where it behoves us to build upon
the ideological foundation laid by Marx is, that
we must deliberately further this revolutionary
transformation of science. Such is the function
Communism, continues Bogdanoff, is sharply
opposed to the anarchy which to a large extent
has hitherto prevailed in bourgeois science and
philosophy. It must be based upon the methodical
organisation of the communist world-society.
" Communism cannot be realised in any single
country. ... It must embrace, if not the
whole world, at least a number of federated coun-
tries able to form a self-dependent whole and able
to present a united front against the rest of the
world. . . . This new society must be cul-
turally adequate to its tasks, and must possess a
unified ideology. If its individual parts differ one
from another in ideals and wishes as extensively
as a workman, a middle-class intellectual, and a
peasant differ from one another to-day, they will
be as little able to unite for purposive communal
organisation, as workmen speaking different
tongues can cooperate in the building of a house.
. . . The proletariat is the heir of all classes
in history; it is the direct source of organising
work; it is the inheritor of the accumulated ex-
perience of the ages. The historic mission of the
proletariat is to coordinate this heritage in the
form of an all-embracing science. Upon the
foundation of this all-embracing proletarian cul-
ture, and upon this alone, will the workers be able
to realise their ideals. "
Even in this outline sketch it would be pusill-
animous to shirk two of the most perplexing and
contentious fields of proletarian culture. We refer
to proletarian ethics and proletarian art. Each
requires a textbook to itself, and yet each must
here be dismissed in two or three paragraphs. We
cannot pretend to decide which is the more thorny
of the two, for both bristle with difficulties. At
random, therefore, we take the first plunge into
the thicket of proletarian ethics.
To Marxist students it is a commonplace that
one of the primary essentials of Independent
Working-Class Education is that " bourgeois
morality" must be confronted by " proletarian
morality." Does this mean that all the morality,
all the ethic, all the customs (substantially, to a
realist, the three words mean the same thing in
practice no less than derivatively), of what is
termed " civilized life" must go by the board?
By no means. Much of what is known as civilised
morality, much of the ethic or custom which has
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 99
been associated with the growth of capitalist
civilisation, is truly universal. It is part of the
vesture of good habit, which distinguishes the
civilised bourgeois or proletarian from the savage,
and will distinguish the civilised communist of the
future from the man of the stone age though it will
assimilate him to the bourgeois of the opening
twentieth century. The " common form " of
civilised life has been a slow acquirement ; it often
vanishes like smoke under the touch of decivilising
stresses, whether of war or of what passes by the
name of " social peace"; it requires much exten-
sion and consolidation with the aid of improved
educational methods and in the light of the new
psychology. But these habits which make us re-
frain from clubbing a stranger who accidentally
treads on our toes or from running a man through
with a rapier because we dislike the cut of his
beard, which enable us to check any impulse to
spit on the floor even when we know we are free
from tubercular disease, which make us respect
the sacred distinction between toine and thine as
regards small articles of personal possession — are
not what we mean by bourgeois morality. One of
the most distinctive canons of bourgeois morality,
and the one which is most emphatically challenged
by proletarian morality, is the sanctity of all that
the bourgeois preeminently terms " property."
The bourgeois lumps under that name exploiting
and non-exploiting property. The land that he
" owns " and the shares which bring him dividends,
are just as sacrosanct in his eyes as the shirt that
he wears or the loose change in his pocket. For
him the proverb, " near is my shirt, but nearer is
my skin " has become " near is my shirt, but
nearer is my title to exploit my fellow mortal."
To proletarian morality, titles to exploitation, the
way-leaves of the duke of Northumberland, the
ground-rents of my lord of Bedford, the railway
shares of John Smith, Esquire, and the Tsarist
Russian loan-bonds in the hands of western in-
vestors, are worth the paper they are written on,
no more and no less. At the first chance that of-
fers, the proletarian will confiscate the lot with
a robust bolshevik conscience, and will sleep the
sounder for having done a good deed!
Again, in matters of the sex relation, there is a
fundamental difference between the bourgeois out-
look and that of the class-conscious proletarian.
This does not mean that the communist wishes to
" communalise women " ; for of all the foolish
fictions that ever found credence among interested
persons, assuredly one of the most foolish was that
a group of revolutionaries whose whole philosophy
of life involved a war on exploitation in all its
forms, should inaugurate the new era by the cal-
lous exploitation of a sex. What it does mean is
that the proletarian, having recognised that the
bourgeois form of the sex relationship is largely
based upon the dominant proprietary system and
the laws of inheritance, recognises also that under
communism the sex relationship will inevitably
tend to assume a new form. Precisely what that
form, or what those forms, will be, it is impossible
to forecast. The conditions of the problem are
still too elusive. But whatever they are, they will
differ considerably from the bourgeois forms of
more or less indissoluble marriage, with a duplex
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 101
code of sexual morality, and the brutal mutual
exploitation of the sexes known as prostitution.
Proletarian morality will not solve all the problems
of the sexual life ; but a communist order of society
will have in this respect fewer difficulties to con-
tend with than capitalism has known.
Russian experience already furnishes warrant
for the belief that as regards ethical practice in
general there is ample confirmation for what theory
had led us to expect. As to theory, Russian
thinkers are devoting themselves to the considera-
tion of the new ethic of the proletariat. Two
Russian pamphlets lie on our table as we write.
One, by "N.N;" is entitled Proletarian Ethics,
Proletarian Conduct from the Outlook of Realist
Philosophy. The other, by Alexandra Kollontai,
discusses The New Morality and the Working
Class. They can be mentioned only in passing.
Recent studies though they are, published in
1920, they fail to deal with ethical problems from
the most modern of all outlooks — that of the New
Psychology, The work of Freud and the two
leading schools of post-Freudians; the work of
McDougall and Trotter; the work of Coue and
Baudouin upon autosuggestion ; — these have made
all the old controversies between the absolutists
and the relativists in morality, between the in-
tuitionists and the utilitarians, between the al-
truists and the egoists, seem out of date. The new
psychologists and the new educationists are not
proletarians, but neither are they distinctively
bourgeois. Their science has been tendentious, in
that it has been pursued for the human interest;
but it no more belongs to a social class than
Darwin's contribution to the theory of evolution
belongs to a social class. Actually, the New
Psychology and the New Pedagogy come as eman-
cipators of the human spirit from the shackles of
the past ; and it is for the proletariat, as the heir
of the ages, to turn these emancipating influences
to account for the furtherance of proletarian cul-
ture. In child education, our Russian comrades
are already much in advance of the contemporary
bourgeois world ; but it is in Britain that are
manifest the first signs of awareness that the New
Psychology is of fundamental importance to the
revolutionary movement. One of the aims of this
little volume is to help in various ways towards
the international unification of Proletcult.
Scant space has been left for the topic of pro-
letarian art. Can there be such a thing as pro-
letarian art? Is such an art possible? Or is Art,
with a capital A, "universal"? The Proletcult
institution was founded in Russia quite as much
in the hope of fostering a distinctively proletarian
art, as in the expectation of fostering a dis-
tinctively proletarian science. Bogdanoff has
written a pamphlet What is Proletarian Poetry?
and naturally plumps in favour of its possibilities.
John Oournos, in four issues of " The New
Europe " (a weekly which would be better en-
titled " The Bad Old Europe, and How can we
save it from Extinction? ")> October 30 to Novem-
ber 20, 1919, empties the vials of his scorn upon
proletarian culture in theory and practice, upon
bolshevik poetry and the bolshevik theatre. But,
PBOLETOULT IN RUSSIA 103
since Cournos is himself an artist, there breathes
through his admirable translations a spirit which
the conscious anti-bolshevik is himself unable to
understand, and which may encourage those whose
proletarian outlook has led them to expect a new
surge of artistic impulse in Soviet Russia. In
"Volksbuhne" (The People's Theatre), No. 3 of
the first volume, 1920/1, Richard Seidel writes
more guardedly in criticism of the very possibility
of proletarian art.
This writer, like the other critics, misses the
main point. It is true that in bourgeois civilisa-
tion art has been the creation, for the most part,
of leisured hangers-on of the wealthier bourgeoisie.
But art originated simply as a means of self-
expression in the craftsman. Such was the art of
the prehistoric age, as we may learn from the
scant remnants that have escaped time's destroy-
ing hand. Such was the art of Japan in the feudal
era. Such was the art of the cathedral builders
of western Europe during an epoch of town life
in which, though civilisation was a class civilisa-
tion, there had not yet arisen the profound cleavage
between " ownership " and u work," between
" leisure" and "toil," characteristic of highly
developed capitalism. The work of the artist
craftsman of the middle ages was not the product
of leisure plus imagination, but of labour plus
imagination. Can we not foresee, in communist
society (together with a considerable generalisa-
tion of leisure as a universal privilege instead of
a class privilege), a revival of that conjuncture of
labour and imagination which we conceive to be
the true social basis of art? And when there is
superadded the quickening and enfranchisement of
the spirit that will derive from the disappearance
of the numerous inward conflicts which underlie
the surface of capitalist society, may we not an-
ticipate such a blossoming of art as the world has
never known? An art which will be proletarian in
its origins, and which, like other forms of pro-
letarian culture, will not improbably retain the
name of u proletarian " even after it has become
a universal means of delight, and a universal mode
of self-expression? '" The art of the future," wrote
Tolstoy many years ago, " will not be a develop-
ment of the art of the present : it will be founded
upon other bases. It will no longer be the pro-
perty of a caste."
Some such conception as this underlies the ex-
pectations of those who look eastward for the signs
of the new advent. Here, in the west, where the
possibilities df proletarian art still lie shrouded
in the womb of the future, where in the present
we have to limit our activities to the fashioning
of a narrow but efficient fighting culture, we must
possess our souls in patience, glad to find our
means of self-expression in the only war that
PROLETCULT AT WORK
What is there to say on this subject that has
not been said a hundred times, in more detail than
can possibly be attempted in these pages? He
that has ears to hear, let him hear. Throughout
the yearfe of storm and stress, the Soviet Govern-
ment, at war with capitalist Europe on the fluc-
tuating frontiers, and at war with the counter-
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 105
revolution within its own borders, has been
steadfastly engaged upon its great task of pro-
letarian culture. It is making headway against
illiteracy. The peasants, though not wholly sym-
pathetic to the communist regime, eagerly accept
the educational advantages it offers. As regards
children, the very difficulties that have beset Rus-
sia, have favoured the governmental scheme of
removing as many children as possible from the
influence of reactionary homes. Of the twenty
million children in Soviet Russia, two million are
living under the roof of State institutions. There,
from the merely animal point of view, they are
better cared for than they can possibly be cared
for at home; and parents are content that the
State should act as what H. G. Wells once declared
it ought to be — the Over-Parent.
Did space permit we would quote largely, not
from bolshevik sources, but from two articles which
H. N. Brailsford, a recent visitor, published on
" Education and Art in Russia," in " The Nation "
for December 24, 1920, and January 15, 1921.
Brailsford, it must be remembered, saw things for
himself, and his knowledge of languages made him
independent of official interpreters. His testimony
therefore, is of especial value. On December 24th
he wrote : " The most inspiring thing in Russia
is that the socialist revolution, instantly and in-
stinctively, began to realise the ideal of universal
education, which the interests and prejudices of
class have thwarted in the rest of Europe." The
same writer touches on education in an article on
" The Russian Communist Party " which appeared
in the "Contemporary Review" for January,
1921. He writes concerning the Sverdloff Uni-
versity at Moscow, the college in which the new
ruling class is training its civil service: " Here
about a thousand young men and women, drawn
from the working class, receive a rapid course of
instruction in political science from the communist
standpoint. They study for six months, taking
courses in political economy, the history of civilisa-
tion, Russian history, statistics, and the history
and doctrines of Marxist socialism. Thereafter
they specialise in some department of administra-
tion (agriculture, food, education, etc.), and the
lectures are followed by practical work in the
ministry which especially interests them."
Referring to the Communist Party, he tells us :
" The Party now largely recruits itself from the
youths who are growing up to manhood and woman-
hood under^ the revolution. The i Young Com-
munist ' organisation, conducted entirely by the
youths themselves, is, with its 400,000 members,
nearly as numerous as the Party. . . . They
aim at permeating the schools, and have very
definite ideals of education. When I asked for a
definition of their aim, one of these youths gave
it promptly : ' We aim at creating a new psy-
chology of social duty : we want those who enjoy
free higher education to learn to devote themselves
to society, to repay what the State has given them
in the school, and not to be content with a few
hours of regulated perfunctory work.' ... I
asked them how far they were reaching the parents
of children hostile to socialism. They answered
that in several cases they had enlisted the children
of priests and of ' kulaks ' [village usurers] . . .
PROLETCULT IN RUSSIA 107
and they mentioned lads by name whose fathers
had in vain tried to thrash the communism out of
Some of the recorded activities of these Young
Communists have a u Boy-Scouty " flavour, re-
minding the reader of Baden Powell's lads on the
prowl for an unwary person to whom they can do
their daily " good turn." And yet how different
is the whole mental outlook from that of our young
apostles of social solidarity under capitalism ! To
mark the contrast, it will suffice in conclusion to
quote once more from Brailsford's article : "Capit-
alist society makes the mind of the people by its
unorganised quasi-monopoly of the printing press.
The communists, by their organised monopoly, are
steadily and rapidly making the minds of the re-
ceptive Russian nation."
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES
England may seem to you untouched, but
the microbe is already there.— Nicolai
Lenin. (In conversation with Arthur Ran-
The most widespread manifestation of the Prolet-
cultural ferment — the Ferment of Revolution, as
the "Times" called it in a series of articles
published in the autumn of 1917 — is the spon-
taneous growth of classes in economics, industrial
history, economic geography, and other subjects
having a direct bearing on the Marxist explanation
of capitalist "society." To-day they flourish
abundantly in the industrial districts of Lan-
cashire, Yorkshire, Northumberland and Durham,
Birmingham and other Midland centres, Notting-
hamshire, etc. In South Wales there are classes
in more than fifty districts, for the most part under
the auspices of the South Wales Miners' Federa-
tion. But in the Rhondda and a few other valleys
there are full-time lecturers employed by the
district organisations of the miners. Classes are
met with even in rural areas, and notably in
Somerset and Norfolk. The backbone of Prolet-
cult in Britain, they are not as yet fully co-
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 109
ordinated by Proletcult Councils, or properly
linked up with the Labour Colleges. Such co-
ordination of effort is the task of the immediate
A subordinate manifestation, hardly less sig-
nificant, is the fact that not a few branches of
the Communist Party are now resolving themselves
into Study Circles. Meetings for study alternate
with the ordinary business meetings of the branch.
Recent contributions to communist literature —
such a book, for instance, as Lenin's The State
and Revolution, or such a document as the Mani-
festo issued in 1919 by the newly formed Third
International — are read in council, annotated,
criticised, and discussed. The aim, of course, is
to transform communism from a vague aspiration
into a working policy.
THE NEW LABOUR COLLEGES
Since the war, a number of additional Labour
Colleges have been founded in the British Isles.
One of these, in Dublin, was established in memory
of Jim Connolly ; but under present conditions in
Ireland, when all the revolutionary energy of the
country is concentrated upon the nationalist
struggle with the British government, it is im-
possible that much attention should be paid to
Proletcult. The Scottish Labour College, projected
in 1916 and formed in Glasgow some two years
later, is non-residential. It was a natural out-
growth of the educational classes in Marxist
socialism which have been carried on in the Clyde
region without intermission since the nineties.
Prior to the winter session of 1920/21, the activities
of the College were practically confined to evening
and Sunday classes. Glasgow, for instance, had
30 such classes, with a total roll of 854 students.
The provincial classes numbered 51, with an at-
tendance of approximately 2,000 students. Among
the subjects taught at the central classes were
economics, industrial history, public speaking,
commercial geography, modern European history,
constitutional law, and Esperanto. At most of
the district classes, study was confined to the first
two subjects named.
During the second winter there has been a great
extension of activity. Many new classes have been
formed, and the total number of students is much
larger. Furthermore, day classes are now being
held, attended by bursars from the Lanarkshire
Miners' County Union, the Fife, Kinross, and
Clackmannan Miners' Association, and the Tool-
makers' and Machinists' Union. There are also
students who are meeting their own maintenance
expenses and paying their own fees. These central
classes are conducted by two full-time tutors.
District Committees to carry on similar work have
been formed in various parts of Scotland ; and a
number of the Scottish trade unions and co-
operative societies are giving financial support.
To meet the demand for working-class education
in districts where it has not yet been possible to
arrange for classes of the ordinary kind, corre-
spondence courses are being initiated. In a word,
a great deal is being done by the Scottish Labour
College to further the object for which it was es-
tablished — the widest possible diffusion of Inde-
pendent Working-Class Education. We may hope
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 111
for the speedy fulfilment of the words used by John
Maclean in the preface to James Clunie's First
Principles of Working -Class Education: " Very
soon every village and hamlet in Scotland will
have its classes working in conjunction with the
Labour College. "
There can be no doubt that these local colleges
are but the prelude to similar bodies which will
shortly be formed in all the industrial districts of
Britain. They will work in close cooperation with
the London Labour College (it is a pity that this
pioneer institution dropped the " Central " from
its name!), and coordination can be promoted by
joint conferences. Thus the various regions will
be enabled to a considerable extent to supply
their own need for class teachers. But as long as
the Labour College in London is the only resi-
dential Labour College in the Isles, it will have a
peculiar prestige, and will remain in effect the Cen-
tral Labour College. Besides the Colleges already
named, there are the Manchester Labour College,
the Sheffield Labour College, and the North-Eastern
District of the Labour College (Newcastle- on -
Tyne). But these are not so much teaching centres
as bodies for coordinating the work of Proletcult
classes. Like the Liverpool Council for Inde-
pendent Working-Class Education, they are Pro-
Whether they are residential or non-residential,
the Labour Colleges that are really colleges tend
to be mainly places for whole-time instruction.
Some of them, like the Scottish Labour College,
will undertake to organise evening and Sunday
classes throughout wide areas. But there is
definite scope for the Councils for Independent
Working-Glass Education which are springing up
throughout the country as parts of the great
educational revolutionary ferment now in progress.
These are concerned with mapping out Proletcul-
tural activities in the areas with which they deal^
with coordinating the work, and with assisting in
the formation and running of classes.
In the London area, for instance, there was
formed in the spring of 1920 the London Labour
Educational Council. To a certain extent this
was a revival of the pre-war activities of the Lon-
don District Council of the National Union of
Railwaymen, the first labour organisation to run
educational classes in the London area under
Labour College auspices and in accordance with
the principles of Independent Working-Glass Edu-
cation. This was in the winter of 1913-14, but the
work was interrupted by the outbreak of the war.
In August, 1920, the London Labour Educational
Council adopted the more class-conscious and dis-
tinctive name of the London Council for Independ-
ent Working-Class Education. This has its head-
quarters at the Labour College, and works in close
collaboration with that institution. By the au-
tumn, the London area had been divided into 23
districts with local committees and branch secre-
taries ; and 38 classes for the study of economics
and industrial history had been inaugurated.
Additional classes were opened at New Year, 1921,
and the number of students now attending these
part-time classes in the London area is about
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 113
The Central Executive Council of the South
Wales Miners' Federation recently appointed an
Educational Sub-Committee to elaborate a scheme
for the unification of the activities of the South
Wales classes and to promote the formation of
classes where these do not as yet exist.
• It is impossible here to give details as to the
work of similar councils in other parts of the
country, but a list of the various councils will be
found in the appendix. In this matter, as in that
of the Labour Colleges, a national coordination
of activities and a national interchange of ex-
perience are desirable, and it may be hoped that
a general conference for the purpose will be held
ere long. One question worth reconsidering at
such a conference would be the question of name.
Why not shorten it to Proletcult Council? Thus
we should have the London Proletcult Council,
the South Wales Proletcult Council, the Man-
chester Proletcult Council. In the case of this
new word there is no prejudice against (i Greek "
to overcome — and the precedent for its use has
been set by Soviet Russia.
THE PLEBS LEAGUE IN 1920-21 -
During the war, the Plebs League had to exist
with banked fires. The editor of the " Plebs
Magazine," J. F. Horrabin, and many of the
regular contributors, were summoned to less con-
genial activities in another field ; and the secretary
of the League, Winifred Horrabin, had to double
editorial work with the secretaryship. But both
Magazine and League survived the years of
struggle, and are now enjoying the quickened
revolutionary impetus which has been — apart from
death and derision — the chief outcome of the
capitalists' war. In August, 1919, when its title
was shortened to u The Plebs," the magazine an-
nounced on its front page that it had " every hope
of swelling visibly within a short time." It has
in fact been repeatedly enlarged both in size and
number of pages. The price has also gone up ; but
so, happily, has the circulation. Not merely is it
the chief organ of Proletcult in this country, but
it is a periodical which can rank with any revolu-
tionary journal in the world.
The League's other activities have kept pace with
the development of the Magazine. In the final
paragraph of Science and the Working Class,
Bogdanoff refers to a Workers' University, and
says that out of the collective life of this institu-
tion, through the joint elaboration of the best
teaching systems, there must arise a Workers'
Encyclopaedia. " Feudal society had its encyclo-
paedia based upon religion: the bourgeoisie,
shortly before the French revolution, wrote a
secular encyclopaedia. The proletariat, the class
which has to refashion life upon a far more splen-
did scale, cannot do without an encyclopaedia of
its own." There can be no Workers' University
in prerevolutionary Britain, for the Labour Col-
leges can concern themselves only with the pro-
vision of a fighting culture. Nor, therefore, can
there be a Workers' Encyclopaedia in the compre-
hensive sense in which the term is employed by
Bogdanoff. But Proletcultural textbooks convey-
ing the elements of a fighting culture will supply
the first requisites for such a Workers' Encyclo-
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 115
paedia, and these the Plebs League hopes to pro-
vide very shortly. Not in economics and industrial
history alone, but in all the subjects of instruction
at the Labour Colleges and in the Proletcult
classes, lecturers and students require textbooks
which are free from the taint of bourgeois ideology.
At a Special Conference held in Bradford on April
17 and 18, 1920, the whole subject was considered,
and plans were laid for textbooks on biology, the
science of understanding, economic geography, in-
dustrial history, and economics. The matter was
again discussed at a " Textbook " Conference held
in Cardiff on September 4, 1920. Further study
of the question has led to the splitting up of some
of the subjects, notably in the case of the compre-
hensive topic of the science of understanding. For
instance, there is now in preparation a textbook
on the vitally important problem of the New
Psychology as it affects proletarian outlooks.
This branch of the League's work is not new.
Some years ago it published three small hand-
books which have been often reissued and widely
used in Proletcultural teaching : W. W. Craik, A
Short History of the Modern Working -Class Move-
ment; Mark Starr, A Worker Looks at History;
and Noah Ablett, Easy Outlines of Economics.
The projected textbooks are an extension of ac-
tivity in the same field. A further (Jevelopment
is the proposed reissue of cheap editions of certain
works which have been published by capitalist
firms at prices prohibitive to proletarian book-
buyers. Some of these will be books which, though
not authoritative expressions of the League's out-
look, are nevertheless in line with the general views
of its members. Others will be scientific works
which, though not written by proletarians or those
who wholeheartedly accept proletarian ideology,
are sufficiently in harmony with that ideology to
form part of the proletarian heritage. Plans
for some of these reprints were discussed at
the 1921 Meet (Bradford, February 12 and 13),
and were heartily approved. Such publishing
activities, in conjunction with schemes for co-
ordinating Proletcult throughout the country, con-
stitute the immediate tasks of the Plebs League.
THE BURSTON STRIKE SCHOOL
A remarkable development of Independent
Working-Class Education — small but imposing —
is that which began in April, 1914, at Burston,
near Diss in Norfolk. Like the affair at Ruskin
College five years earlier, this was a " students'
strike, V though the students here were not tough
young men from the mining districts, but tender
children of school age, the children of agricultural
labourers. Just as the Ruskin College students
struck against the dismissal of Dennis Hird, so
the Burston children struck against the dismissal
of their teachers, husband and wife. The latter
was the head of the council school, and T. G.
Higdon, her husband, was assistant master. The
real cause of the dismissal was that Higdon, a mem-
ber of the I.L.P., had been actively and success-
fully promoting the organisation of agricultural
labourers throughout the district. He was there-
fore an " agitator " and a " firebrand," and had
incurred the displeasure of the tin gods who
formed the governing body of the school — the
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 117
parson and the farmers. Just as in Dennis Hird's
case, a charge of " unsatisfactory discipline " was
trumped up against the Higdons, whose idea of
discipline was to teach self-discipline, and did not
include the use of the cane.
The strike was described by the local worthies
as " all moonshine/' but it has now lasted seven
years. Prosecutions for non-attendance and the
imposition of fines were the immediate consequence
of the children's " down-tools " policy; and thus,
if the authorities were to be paralysed, it was
absolutely necessary that the School Strike should
develop into a Strike School. The result has been
the formation at Burston of a permanent centre
of revolutionary education. This small beginning
of Proletcult among the children of a rural popu-
lation is pregnant with possibilities for the future.
The school has the financial support of many
trade unions and other working-class associations.
The whole strike movement has been a wonderful
example of solidarity, steadfastness, and loyalty,
on the part of parents and children alike. The
original petty tyrant who was the centre of the
anti-Higdon movement, a typical " squarson/' left
the parish about six months ago. But at Burston,
incumbents may come and incumbents may go ; the
Strike School goes on for ever. The common folk
of Burston and neighbouring villages, sweated
and underpaid though they are, have managed all
along to give help in money and produce. Through
the willing sacrifice of these working men and
women the initial difficulties of housing and fur-
nishing were overcome, and the school has for
some years been carried on under its own roof —
an example of sturdily independent working-class
education. Burston still remains a purely local
affair, but with a little more revolutionary initia-
tive and with more extended support from the
organised workers, it might develop into a Modern
School resembling that at Stelton, New Jersey.
THE WORKERS'' EDUCATIONAL TRADE UNION COMMITTEE
This body came into existence last year. Sub-
stantially it may be regarded as the outcome of a
movement to secure increased support for educa-
tional activities from trade unions as yet unat-
tached either to the Bed Plebs League or to the
Pale Pink W.E.A. Under the auspices of the
W.E.T.U.C., a conference was held in London on
October 16, 1920. In addition to the secretary
and the assistant secretary (the former, it should
be noted, is also the secretary of the W.E.A.) and
five members of the Central Committee, there were
present nineteen representatives of various trade
unions. The chair was taken by Arthur Pugh,
secretary to the Iron and Steel Trades Confedera-
tion. His address contained some significant
statements. Here is one :
" Classes organised and controlled by universi-
ties and local educational authorities do not pro-
vide the atmosphere or the freedom that induce
large numbers of working-class men and women
to become students. Moreover, there unquestion-
ably exists in the minds of working men and women
a strong suspicion of the bias of university and
local education authority teaching in social and
industrial subjects. The suspicion is undoubtedly
well founded. This does not imply that either
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 119
universities or local education authorities con-
sciously impose opinions on their students. What
can, however, happen is that they may tend to
teach a line of thought which assumes the existing
system to be permanent and just."
The W.E.T.U.O. originated out of a demand
from branches of the Iron and Steel Trades Con-
federation that ways and means should be pro-
vided for the education of its members. At first
the executive had seriously considered " a policy
of separate action/' i.e., the inauguration of a
system of Independent Working-Class Education.
But " economical and other practical considera-
tions" made the executive decide to enlist the
services of the W.E.A., and as a result the
W.E.T.U.C. was inaugurated. The net result,
viewed from the Bed end of the spectrum, is of
course that while the hands are the hands of the
trade unions concerned, the voice is the voice of
the W.E.A. ! Increased trade-union support has
been provided for the distillers of the " W.E.A.
Nevertheless the leaven of Proletcult operates
even within the W.E.A., and its new offshoot the
W.E.T.U.C. Arthur Pugh's mentality is by no
means that of Mansbridge, Tawney, Greenwood,
and the other W.E.A. stalwarts. Throughout
his address he obviously had his eye on the dis-
gruntled Proletculturists within his own union, who
would have preferred " separate action," or frank
support of the Labour College. " To ask trade
unions to avail themselves of the ordinary educa-
tional facilities provided by universities and educa-
tion authorities is . . . impracticable. It is
unnecessary to enter into the reason why. It is
sufficient to say that every responsible trade- union
official knows that his members refuse to avail
themselves of them. They desire to build up their
own educational movement, to work out their own
salvation in the world of thought as they are en-
deavouring to do in the world of action. " It m
obvious that the stimulating example of the Plebs
League and the Labour Colleges, in conjunction
with the pressure of economic conditions and the
demands of the students, has been responsible for
this new outbreak of W.E.A. activity. The true
significance of Pugh's address is that to get ad-
ditional trade-union support the W.E.A. had to
drop its name and sail under false colours. In
reality, W.E.T.U.C. means W.E.A., just as much
as Council for Independent Working-Class Edu-
cation means Plebs!
Two more quotations, and we have done with the
W.E.T.U.C. The secretary (Mactavish) declared :
" The great problem is to get people to come to
classes. In Wales there are a large number of
students who will not touch a class organised by
the universities, but if they have control of them
themselves, through their trade union, they will
come in large numbers. " G. D. H. Cole (prominent
W.E.A.-er and committeeman of the W.E.T.U.C.)
said : " A resolution proposing that Euskin and
the Central Labour College shall come under the
protection of the labour movement will come up
at the Trade-Union Congress. The larger question
of educational facilities should come up also at
the Trade-Union Congress. The job of the Labour
Colleges is a comparatively restricted one. The
YEAST IN THE BRITISH ISLES 121
job of classes for men carrying on their everyday
work is a very much wider and more important
From the viewpoint of the writers of this book
the supremely important thing is that working-
class education should remain independent, that
it should not be Bourgeoiscult but Proletcult. It
would seem that the students are going to attend
to that matter themselves!
MORE TROUBLE BREWING AT RUSKIN COLLEGE
A significant indication of this is to be found in
the fact that mutterings of a new storm may be
heard from Buskin College. A note in the
"Plebs" of December, 1920, is worth quoting:
" A section of the Buskin College students has
been — and still is — dissatisfied with the educational
policy of that institution. At the beginning of
this term a Marxian group was formed, and at a
recent college debate members of this group cham-
pioned the declaration : ' the emancipation of the
working class can only be secured by a policy of
independent working-class education. > A lively
debate ensued, the final vote being : for, 20 ;
against, 23. After the debate was formally closed,
discussions continued in various parts of the hall,
and, according to our report, the college porter
had to intervene and separate more than one pair
of disputants." This story squares with private
information that there is a good deal of restiveness
among the students on account of the unduly
" impartial " character of the teaching. In fact,
some of the unions maintaining students at the
College, the Northumbrian miners, for one, have
(we are informed) made representations. Also,
lectures on " orthodox'' economics have been
poorly attended. Result : the appointment of
a Marxist lecturer, quite free from university
connexions, and a man well-known for a good
many years as a prominent member of a class- war
organisation. But— it is a big "but" — the lec-
turer, whose theoretical competence no one will
question, is a comparatively safe man from the
standpoint of the College authorities. A year ago,
he broke away from the left-wing organisations
over the question of revolutionary policy; he is
now a member of the I.L.P. ; he is a candidate fdr
parliamentary honours under Labour Party aus-
pices. Still, that a Marxist even of the Plehanoff
and Kautsky complexion should lecture on
economics at Ruskin College is a sign of the
times, a proof that the Proletcultural leaven is
everywhere at work. Maybe ere long the new
wine will again burst the old bottle at Ruskin!
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY
At the present time the proletariat is
certainly the most intensely class conscious
of all the social classes; and this, apart
from its preponderating numbers, means
that it is much the most powerful and im-
portant of all existing partial herds —
potentially at least, for it has, of course,
by no means reached the zenith of its politi-
cal power. — A. G. Tansley. (The New
Psychology and its Relation to Life, p.
'METHODS OF TEACHING
At the Plebs Meet held in Bradford on February
12 and 13, 1921, a discussion took place on the
improvement of method in class teaching. It was
extraordinarily interesting to find that, in the
actual practice of adult proletarian education, men
who had paid little attention to educational theory
were working out methods substantially identical
with those advocated and applied by the most
advanced bourgeois exponents of pedagogic science.
The nature of the educational classes for adults
dictates this development. You cannot drive class-
conscious young proletarians in a direction in
which they do not wish to go. The studies must
be linked on to their interests, must harmonise
with their affects and their emotionally tinged
desires. But this is the principle of libertarian
education, as contrasted with the old idea of cram-
ming with knowledge, and of " helping the lasy
ones on with the stick." This is the method of
the Montessori School, of Ferrer's Modern School,
of the New School, applied to proletarian culture
for adults. Again, the educational classes run
under the auspices of Labour Colleges and Prolet-
cult Councils tend to an increasing extent to de-
part from the old idea of set courses of lectures
conducted by throned or pulpited " experts,"
during and after whose oracular utterances no dog
may bark ! They are discussion classes. In many
cases they are actually conducted by the pupils,
with the friendly and suggestive cooperation of
the " teacher." It becomes a case of " do your
own teaching " no less than of " do your own
thinking." Now " do your own teaching " is pre-
eminently the method of libertarian child educa-
tion ! It is the finest fruit of bourgeois pedagogy
spontaneously worked out in proletarian edu-
cational practice. One of the most talented
exponents of the newer educational theories,
Adolphe Ferriere of the Jean Jacques Rousseau
Institute in Geneva, is fain to admit that his ideal
Revolutionise the School will only be achieved
through the social revolution. He does not say
this in so many words : but he knows that
capitalist States are more interested in war bud-
gets than in education, and he writes (p. 148) :
" Sooner or later, in place of the Society of Na-
tions the world must establish the Federation of
Peoples. Then there will no longer be a war budget,
but only one monster budget — that of education."
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY 125
THE PROLETARIAN HERITAGE
Ferriere employs bourgeois terminology, but he
ig probably aware that his educational ideals will
not materialise until the proletariat enters into
its heritage; and he probably knows that there is
only one country in the world where his methods
are being applied on a large scale — namely, Soviet
Russia. In this matter, Russia consciously bor-
rows from advanced bourgeois educationists.
When we contend that the primary need for the
working class to-day is to promote a distinctively
proletarian culture, it is by no means our inten-
tion to put forward the extravagant claim that all
advances in thought are now the work of persons
who are proletarian by origin or status, or even
of persons who accept the proletarian philosophy
of life. Creative artists in thought, like creative
artists in other fields, are driven by inner urges
which are for the most part " above the battle "
and are unaffected even by the environment of the
class war. It is the application of the new thought
which is subject to the interests of class. When
a new thought is, or seems, obviously antagonistic
to the interests of a dominant class, it is fiercely
resisted by the members of that class — as the
theories of Galileo and Bruno were resisted by the
Cathdlic Church. The ideas of an innovator like
Darwin may be seized upon by the upholders of
privilege, and distorted till they acquire a com-
plexion which makes them lend specious support to
the inequalities of the capitalist system. Similarly
with the revolutionary psychological conceptions
of Freud and his successors. They can be used
to "rationalise" the impulses of each of the two
partial herds into which contemporary society is
divided. In this matter it behoves the revolu-
tionary proletariat to be quick to enter into the
heritage; to simplify and turn to account the
doctrines of bourgeois and semi-bourgeois thinkers.
We live in an era which is revolutionising outlooks
more fundamentally than they were revolutionised
even by Copernican astronomy, Newtonian physics,
Darwinian biology, or Marxist economics. The
New Psychology provides the philosophical justi-
fication of bolshevism, and supplies a theoretical
guide for our efforts in the field of proletarian
WHAT IS THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY?
The essence of the New Psychology is comprised
in a recognition that the older science tended to
exaggerate man's rationality. Far from being a
rational being, one whose actions are wholly or
mainly guided by reasoned considerations or by
an intellectualist calculus of pleasures and pains,
man is a creature whose activities are funda-
mentally determined by the nature of the com-
plexes of which his mind is made up. Disregarding
the philosophical problem of the relationship be-
tween mind and body, we may say that the mind
is to be conceived as a network of mental elements
associated into systems to which the name " com-
plex " has been given. Every such complex centres
round an affect or emotion, and the stimulation of
any one of these linked and emotionally-tinged
associated ideas tends to call the other partners
into consciousness through the medium of their
common affect. As soon as any complex is aroused
to consciousness, or sometimes while it exists
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY 127
merely in the farm of a subconscious urge, the
psychic energy attached to it discharges along the
appropriate channels of endeavour. The three
universal complexes, the great subconscious urges
by which the enormous majority of our actions
are really determined, are the ego complex, the
herd complex, and the sex complex. To the " ex-
tremists" of the Freudian school, the sex complex
appears to be the most vital of all the complexes.
Perhaps it is ; but it is not the one most vital to
the present inquiry. For the immediate purposes
of proletarian culture we are far more closely con-
cerned with the two other fundamental complexes.
THE EGO COMPLEX AND THE HERD COMPLEX
Man is a social animal, but the fact has been
obscured by the tendencies of capitalistic develop-
ment during the last few centuries. The prompt-
ings of the herd instinct are so powerful that they
often overrule the promptings of the egoistic in-
stinct. Education acts largely in virtue of its
power to turn these instincts, these complexes,
these affects, to account. In medieval systems, the
trend of education was to make special use of the
herd complex — sometimes on behalf of such a
partial herd as the feudal clan, sometimes on be-
half of a much wider social integration like the
Catholic Church. At this time the national herd
was of quite minor importance, for the nationalist
sentiment in its modern form is a late product of
capitalist development. But always, down to our
own day, the herd complex has been operative only
within the limits of some partial herd. The uni-
versal herd has never been the object of anything
more than vague humanistic aspiration. Nay, it
can be nothing more within the framework of the
The herd complex was the basis of primitive
communism. The herd complex has been the basis
of the impulse towards communism which has
asserted itself again and again throughout history.
It is false psychology to declare that man is " fun-
damentally individual istic," " essentially egois-
tic.'' Whether by primary instinct or as the out-
come of social suggestion matters not, the herd
complex, is just as fundamental as the ego com-
plex, and is far more decisive over the actions of
the normal human b^ing as soon as the first few
months of infancy have been outgrown. Yet for
centuries the aim of bourgeois culture, of capital-
istic culture (essentially individualist), was to em-
phasise the ego complex at the expense of the herd
complex — at least in the economic field. The herd
complex was reserved for window-dressing and
Sunday best. The " real man " of the bourgeois
creed was the man whose nature was red in tooth
and claw, the man whose gospel was every one for
himself and the devil take the hindmost.
But capitalistic developments have gradually
intensified the forms of partial herd segregation
with which social evolution is now at work. We
have the two confronted partial herds of the bour-
geoisie and the proletariat. As against the pro-
letariat, the bourgeoisie is integrated and fully
class conscious. But within the bourgeois partial
herd the integration is imperfect. In virtue of
linguistic and geographical considerations far more
than in virtue of racial or truly national considera-
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY 129
tions, the bourgeoisie is split up into numerous
sub-herds termed nations, which are variously
allied as real or fancied bourgeois interests sug-
gest. During the phase of high capitalistic de-
velopment, the conditions of profit-making pro-
duction have led to an ever more active cult of
nationality, whereby the Active herd known as the
nation is made the basis of a complex sufficiently
powerful to induce the average man and woman to
accept the appalling sacrifices demanded by such
a war as that of 1914-18 — a war for the manu-
facturing and trading interests of competing
groups of the master class. Such, in the wording
of the New Psychology, is the explanation of re-
cent history as it appears to twentieth century
Obviously, then, to a Marxist, the function of
proletarian culture is to counteract the bourgeois
culture which uses the herd instinct on behalf of
the nationalist herd and in support of a capitalist
exploiting society organised as a national State.
Proletcult, the culture of the great partial herd
of the international proletariat, will do every-
thing that can be done to promote proletarian
class consciousness, to foster and accentuate the
proletarian herd complex. So doing, Proletcult
works in line with the advance of civilisation, with
the forces which can alone realise a true world-
civilisation. Through the world revolution, the
proletariat will become the universal herd, which
no national herd and no bourgeois herd can ever
become. In place of the vague humanitarian aims
of liberalism and pre- Marxian socialism, we have
a definite method of achieving social solidarity.
But it can be achieved in one way only; through
the relentless waging of the class war until the
bourgeois herds have been disrupted, and until
their power has been finally broken. That is the
teaching of Marxist economics reinforced by the
New Psychology. That is the function of Prolet-
cult. Even before the revolution, working through
the partial herd as it must until capitalism has
been overthrown, Proletcult does its utmost to
foster communism within the partial herd of the
proletariat. It works upon an impulse, an un-
conscious urge, which (it cannot be too often re-
peated) is primitive and universal. Trade unionism
and the cooperative movement are imperfect ex-
pressions of the dormant communistic impulse in
the proletarian herd. In so far as they are con-
structed upon the right lines, they act as persistent
suggestions reinforcing the herd complex of the
THE CONTROL OP THE SUBCONSCIOUS
The New Psychology, having revealed to us the
subconscious personality whose being is in many
respects more vital to the self than is that of the
personality of which we are consciously aware,
has now gone further and has taught us how, in
large measure, to control its activities. The New
Psychology has taught us, that is to say, how to
control the subconscious, both purposively and
effectively. All that has ever been termed educa-
tion has been to a far greater extent an education
of the subconscious than of the conscious self.
To-day, the idea that education is suggestion will
be a novelty to many. To-morrow, it will be a
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY 131
commonplace. Yesterday, it was an outrage. In
the second or third year of the war we went to
hear a lecture by a practical modern educationist
who had been a teacher in one of the best-known
New Schools in Britain. An enquiry, after the
lecture, whether he did not realise the supreme
value of the conscious use of suggestion as an
educational force, was received much as if we had
commended one of the grosser kinds of sexual
impropriety ! It was evident that the lecturer was
himself the subject of an unfortunate complex;
and that the innocent word " suggestion " had
aroused various unpleasant emotional associations
connected with sensational nonsense about " hyp-
notism/' " mesmerism," and other forms of
" undue influence."
The recognition that suggestion is autosugges-
tion, and that autosuggestion is the means whereby
imagination controls the subconscious self, will
dissipate these nightmares, and will enable us to
make a right use of the most potent force which
has become available to the members of the human
herd since the invention of articulate speech. The
whole subject has been placed upon a secure scien-
tific footing by Charles Baudouin in his Suggestion
and Autosuggestion. As recently as 1907, M. W.
Keatinge (Suggestion in Education) criticised the
term autosuggestion as misleading. He wrote,
"the idea is really suggested from without, and
appears to be l self- suggested ' only to the person
in whose mind it has been latent," Nevertheless,
most readers of Baudouin's book will agree that
in education, no less than in psychotherapeutics,
what goes on in the subconscious is what really
counts in the whole process, and that upon the
successful influencing of the subconscious depends
the success of the teacher no less than of the healer.
The value of all the latest educational methods,
as compared with the cruder methods of earlier
days, is that they make a more effective though
still for the most part unwitting appeal to the
subconscious; that they achieve a skilful though
not as yet fully understood utilisation of the
pupils' powers of autosuggestion.
It is for the Proletculturist to turn these powers
to deliberate account as part of the proletarian
heritage. In the proletarian environment, the sub-
conscious is already aware of the conflict we term
the class struggle. The suggestions of Marxist
education in economics and industrial history are
in conformity with latent trends that pre-exist in
the pupils' minds. They arouse autosuggestions
which speedily awaken and reinforce class con-
sciousness, and direct the associated emotions to-
wards the channels of revolutionary endeavour.
Here it is not the will, as the old psychologists
used to say, which is the motive force of action.
The force is the force of imagination. Suggestion
and autosuggestion are ideomotive force ; the force
whereby, through the intermediation of the sub-
conscious, thought is realised in action. That is
the meaning of Marxism as a revolutionary high-
explosive; for the Marxist ideology arouses the
latent autosuggestions of the proletarian status.
Part of the proletarian heritage of to-day must be
the clear realisation by revolutionary propa-
gandists of the full significance of the New
Psychology and the New Pedagogy.
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY . 133
Education is suggestion. What counts in initia-
ting suggestion is not the will but the imagination.
" In the beginning was the deed/' says Goethe's
Faust. We should phrase it differently to-day,
saying, " In the beginning was imagination.'"'
The deed follows. The function of the Prolet-
culturist is to fire the imagination, until imagina-
tion realises itself in action.
The workers are strong. If they endure
oppression, it is because they are hypno-
tised. The one thing needful is to awaken
them from this hypnotic sleep. Leo
Tolstoy. (Diary, February 3rd, 1898.)
The aim of Proletcult has been to show that all
the educational forces of the capitalist State — the
power of the schools and the universities; the
power of the cinema, the pulpit, and the press —
combine to diffuse a Bourgeoiscultural suggestive
influence tending to befool the workers. This has
not, until recently, be§n a deliberate policy; but
it tends increasingly to become so. The policy is
more deliberate and more ruthless in the United
States than as yet in Europe. Upton Sinclair, in
The Brass Check, refers primarily to the news-
paper press and to American conditions ; but much
of what he has to say applies to this side of the
Atlantic, and can be generalised to include all the
" means of infection " at the disposal of the master
class. He writes : " You will miss the point of
this book if you fail to get clear that the provision
of news and the betrayal of public opinion is no
haphazard and accidental thing. For twenty-five
years it has been a thing deliberately planned and
THE REVEILLE 135
systematically carried out, a science and a tech-
nique. High-priced experts devote their lives to
it. They sit in council with the masters of in-
dustry, and report on the condition of the public
mind, and determine precisely how this shall be
presented and how that shall be suppressed. They
create a public psychology, a force in the grip of
which you, their. victim, are as helpless as a moth
in the glare of an arc-light. And what is the
purpose of it all? One thing, and one thing only
— that the wage slaves of America shall continue
to believe in and support the system whereby
their bones are picked bare and thrown upon the
scrap-heap of the profit-system."
Now in the fight against this system and in the
counteraction of the methods that are used for its
support, Independent Working-Class Education
or revolutionary Proletcult is in many respects
the most vital of all means. Let us quote once
again the recent utterance of Henry de Man,
director of the Belgian Board of Labour educa-
tion ("The Survey," September 1, 1920) : u When
Labour strikes, it says to its master : I shall no
longer work at your command. When it votes for
a party of its own, it says : I shall no longer vote
at your command. When it creates its own classes
and colleges, it says : I shall no longer think at
your command. Labour's challenge to education
is the most fundamental of the three."
Substantially, de Man's statement is to the ef-
fect that there are three main lines of advance :
the political action of the Communist Party; the
direct action of organised labour ; and Independent
Working-Class Education. We need not dispute
as to Avhich is the most important, since all are
indispensable. The essential thing is that there
should be collaboration along all three lines. The
mass action of organised labour must be guided
by revolutionary intelligence, if it is not to remain
futile. Revolutionary intelligence must receive
the material support of organised labour. The
political party forms a centralising and coordinat-
ing force for activities in all three fields. But it
must be noted that as the revolutionary crisis ap-
proaches, the educational method has considerable
advantages over the political. Revolutionary
political activities will sooner be driven under-
ground by the forces of repression. This hardly
applies to the industrial line of advance. Of course,
thanks largely to Proletcult, the industrial or-
ganisation of the workers is increasingly guided by
a subversive aim; but in western " democracies"
it becomes more and more difficult for govern-
ments to take high-handed measures against in-
dustrial organisations. Revolutionary political
parties, on the other hand, will ever more fre-
quently be subjected to the pressure of exceptional
laws against " sedition," of exceptional measures
for the "defence of the realm." Educational ac-
tivities financed by the industrial unions occupy
an intermediate position. It is unlikely that they
will be interfered with until capitalism is in its
death agony. The efforts of the defenders of the
capitalist fortress will be confined to occasional
clamours for the prosecution or suppression of
Marxist educational classes and the agencies which
promote them ; and to counter-propaganda like
that of the Federation of British Industries, which
THE REVEILLE 137
is busily engaged upon plans for organising "safe"
economic classes for the workers — places where
potential revolutionists can be satisfactorily pithed.
Meanwhile we have to insist that in the educa-
tional field, no less than in the political and in-
dustrial fields, Mr. Facing-Both-Ways is more
dangerous than a declared enemy. In the preface
to his latest work, Terrorism and Communism,
Trotsky points out that what he terms " inter-
national Kautskyism " — represented in Britain by
the Independent Labour Party and the Parlia-
mentary Labour Party — is the chief political factor
whereby capitalist society is sustained in its pres-
ent position of unstable equilibrium. Hence the
need for the Third International, to clear the
political issues. Similarly in the industrial field,
the Yellow Trade -Union International is one of the
mainstays of reaction, and it was essential to
create the Red Trade-Union International with its
cry of " Show your Colours! " No less essential,
we contend, is it that there should be a Red Pro-
letcult International, to coordinate the work of
revolutionary education, and to make the workers
everywhere understand that the social solidarians
who prate of the union of labour and learning,
who offer Bourgeoiscult in place of Proletcult, are
but wolves in sheep's clothing, are but disguised
emissaries of the master class. Important as it is
to clear the issues in the political and industrial
fields, it is in certain respects even more important
to clear the issues in the educational field. u We
may say," writes Trotsky in the before-mentioned
preface, " that the will of the working masses
throughout the civilised world, continually stressed
138 ■ PKOLETCULT
by the course of events, is far more revolutionary
than their judgment; for their judgment is still
obscured by parliamentarist prejudices and theories
of class collaboration. The struggle for the dic-
tatorship of the working class makes it necessary
at this moment that we should wage a pitiless war
against Kautskyism within the working class. "
There is a " Kautskyism " in education no less
than in trade unionism and in politics. Against
Kautskyism in education the Proletculturist must
wage a pitiless war.
The industrial workers cannot have their minds
clarified by an education which is not itself freed
from all taint of bourgeois ideology. The indus-
trial movement in Britain is still in large measure
chaotic; for the slough of the old unionism has
never been completely cast, and the confusionism
resulting from the idea that parliamentarism is
the only form of political action tends to paralyse
effort. Among the rank and file of the unions,
mainly as the outcome of tendentious education,
there is a revolt, not merely against craft unionism
and the parliamentary aims and methods of the
" Kautskyite" labour leaders, but against the
whole conception that the primary object of trade
unionism is to secure higher wages and shorter
hours. They are returning to the trade-union aims
of Chartist days, when there was a design to
revolutionise society and thereby to open the way
to freedom. To encourage this revolutionary
mentality is the primary aim of prerevolutionary
Thus in countries that are preparing for the
revolution, Proletcult has both to diffuse and to
THE REVEILLE 139
concentrate the revolutionary impetus, and to or-
ganise and clarify the intelligence of the class-
conscious minority that will institute the dictator-
ship of the proletariat when capitalism collapses.
The dictatorship of those who, like the bolsheviks
in Red Russia, will ride in the whirlwind and
direct the storm. Incidentally, of course, Prolet-
cult has an important function in helping to coun-
teract all attempts to restabilise the tottering
fabric of capitalism. The modern Marxist, one
who belongs to the left wing and repudiates the
Kautskyite interpretation, does not propose to
stand idly awaiting the disintegration of the
capitalist system. He conceives of revolution as
something towards whose coming the creative will
and intelligence of the revolutionary workers must
actively contribute. If it be true, as Kant declared,
that as progress becomes more rapid its phases
grow shorter, this is mainly because progress —
social progress — is increasingly lifted to a plane
above the blind play of material forces, and is
guided by the mind of man. In the present
phase of social development the intelligence that
can guide social progress can be found only in the
ranks of the proletariat.
In Russia, where the first stages of the revolu-
tion have already been achieved, Proletcult is a
new system of education, State education, or-
ganised by the ergatocratic State, to cultivate the
average mentality requisite for the successful
working of the stable yet progressive communist
commonwealth — just as the aim of State education
under capitalism is to produce the kind of human
material needed by the capitalist State. A truly
revolutionised education is possible only in the
Pending the World Revolution, it is for Prolet-
culturists of all lands to unite. The Russians can
help us, and we can help the Russians. We can
help one another by educational organisation on
an international scale,- just as much as by industrial
and political organisation on an international
scale. That is why it is essential to establish a
Red Proletcult International.
The workers are strong. If they endure oppres-
sion, it is because they are hypnotised. The one
thing needful is to awaken them from this hypnotic
SOUND THE REVEILLE !
BOOKS, PAMPHLETS, AND PERIODICALS
This includes all periodicals mentioned in the text or used in
the preparation of the book, except those connected with the
Young movement. For these see Socialist and Communist
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" Poor Man's Guardian," Manchester, 1882.
" Populaire," Paris, January 20, 1919.
" Rand School News and Book Review," file September, 1920,
Rand School of Social Science, Bulletins for 1918-1919, 1919-
1920, 1920-1921, 7 East loth Street, New York City, U.S.A.
Ransome, Arthur, Six Weeks in Russia in 1919, Allen & Un-
win, London, 1919; Huebsch, New York City, U.S.A., 1919.
Rathenau, Walter, In Days to Come, translated by Eden and
Cedar Paul, Allen & Unwin, London, 1921.
Ravitsh, S., The Zinovieff University in Petrograd. [Not
available in English translation].
" Red Dawn," a Magazine for Young People, International
Proletarian School Movement, 17 Oswald Street, Glasgow.
" Red Flag," Organ of the Young Socialist League, begun May,
1920; only one number issued. (See " Young Worker, The ").
Robertson, A. H., Independence or Copartnership in Educa-
tion, published by Guy Bowman, London, 1910. (A pioneer
proletculturist's criticism of the W.E.A.).
Ruskin College Conference, Manifesto to the Delegates, Oxford,
Ruskin College, Enforced Resignation of Mr. Dennis Hird,
Manifesto by the Students, Oxford, 1909.
Ruskin College, Trade-Union Students' Manifesto, Oxford, 1909.
Ruskin Fellowship, leaflet proposing the formation of the
" Plebs," Oxford, 1909. *
" Russian Correspondence," (file) but specially No. 10, July
1920 for articles on Russian educational work, Smolny,
Scottish Labour College, Prospectus, Glasgow, 1919-1920.
*Seed, W. H., The Burning Question of Education, Plebs
League, Oxford, 1909. (This pamphlet contains the best de-
tailed account of the strike at Ruskin College, and the
formation of the Plebs League and the foundation of the
Central Labour College. The author's name was withdrawn
from the later revised editions, and the pamphlet was issued
by the E.C. of the Plebs League).
11 Ship Builders' News and Navy Yard Employee," A Monthly
Ship Workers' Journal, Supplement, Workers' Education, a
Symposium, Brooklyn, N. York, U.S.A., November, 1919.
Sinclair, Upton, The Brass Check, a Study of American Jour-
nalism, published by the Author, Pasadena, California, 1919;
Henderson, London, 1921.
Socialist Sunday Schools, Aims, Objects, and Organisation,
with List of Publications, National Council of British So-
cialist Sunday Schools, 1914. Address, see p. 153.
Socialist Sunday Schools, United States of America, by David
P. Berenberg, lecturer at the Rand School of Social Science
(unpublished), Bureau of Industrial Research, 289, Fourth
Avenue, New York City, 1920.
11 Solidarity," 10 Tudor Street, London, E.C. 4; Ap. 1st & 8th,
1921. (Articles by Pierre Pascal on Child Education in Soviet
" Sonntagsblaetter," 1920. Supplement by Fritz Wartenweilen-
Haffter, Der erste Sommer im Nussbaum, Verlag Genossen-
schaft, Zurich, Switzerland.
South Wales Plebs, Appeal for a New Labour College, Porth,
" Sowjet," a Communist monthly, for October, 1920; report
of the first All-Russian Proletcult conference. Seehof Verlag,
Berlin, C. 54, Germany.
11 Sozialistlsche Schulleiter," a bulletin for the guidance of
socialist teachers of children. Socialist Sunday Schools and
Children's Group. Alfred Hiimbelin, Birmensdorfstr, 55, Zurich
4, Switzerland. (Teaching based on class struggle and pre-
paration for revolution, through stories for the most part).
11 Spectator,' * London, file for 1920.
*Starr, Mark, A Worker Looks at History, Plebs League,
London, 1920. [Textbook].
Struik, D. J., Het Kommunisme en net opkomend Geslacht.
Doel en Taak der Proletarische Jeugdbeweging [Communism
and the Rising Generation. Aims and Tasks of the Move-
ment of Proletarian Youth] " De Zaaier " Jeugdbond,
Scheeperstraat 28, The Hague, Holland.
" Sunday Times," London, January 2nd, 1921.
" Survey," New York, September 1, 1920.
♦Sweeney, Charles Patrick, Adult Working-Class Education
in Great Britain and the United States, Bulletin No. 271,
U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, U.S.A., 1920. (A
useful booklet, compiled by a young government official, a
keen educationist of fairly advanced views).
" Syndicalist, The," organ of the Industrial Syndicalist Edu-
cation League. [Extinct].
♦Tansley, A. G., The New Psychology and its Relation to Life,
Allen & Unwin, London, 1920.
" Times," London, The Ferment of Revolution, September
15th, 1917, et seq.
Tolstoi, Leon, L'ecole de Yasnala Poliana, Savine, Paris, 1888.
Tolstoi, Leon, Journal intime, 1895-1910, Flammarion, Paris,
1917. (This contains the French version of the passage
quoted on pp. 134 and 140 of our text).
Tolstoy, Leo, Journal, 1895-1910, translated by Rose Strunsky,
Knopf, New York City, U.S.A., 1917. (This was translated
from an expurgated version of the Russian original, pub-
lished during the last days of the tsarist regime. It does
not contain the passage we quote on pp. 134 and 140).
Tolstoy, Leo, What is Art? translated by Aylmer Maude,
Walter Scott, London, 1899.
Trotsky, L., Terrorism and Communism, Communist Party of
Great Britain, London, 1921.
Trotter, W., Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War, Fisher
Unwin, London, 1916.
Ulianova (Krupskaia), The Ideal of Socialist Education, thesis
presented to the first All-Russian Proletcult Conference, 1918.
♦Vasconcellos, A Faria de, A New School in Belgium, trans-
lated from the French by E. and C. Paul, Harrap, London,
" Voix Nouvelles," December 15, 1920, Geneva, Switzerland.
" Volksbtihne," (The People's Theatre), a journal for social
art, file 1920-21, Verlag Volksbtihne E.V., Berlin, C. 25,
W.E.A., its Methods and Organisation, [leaflet], Workers'
Educational Association, London, 1920.
W.E.A. Recommendations for Adult Education, Workers'
Educational Association, London, 1920.
♦W.E.A. Year Book, Workers' Educational Association, Lon-
Wells, H. G., A Modern Utopia, Chapman & Hall, London,
Wells, H. G., New Worlds for Old, Constable, London, 1914.
Wells, H. G., The Wonderful Visit, Dent, London, 1914.
What a Government Committee says about the Work of the
Adult School Movement [pamphlet], National Adult School
Union, London, 1920.
What is an Adult School? [leaflet], National Adult School
♦White, William A., The Mental Hygiene of Childhood, Little
Brown, Boston, U.S.A., 1919.
Wichmann, Clara, Het Russische Huwelijks- en Familie-Recht,
(Russian Marriage and Family Law). De Nieuwe Amster-
dammer, 2e Const antijn Huygensstraat 79, Amsterdam, Hol-
Woods, Robert Archey, English Social Movements, Swan Son-
nensehein, London, 1895.
" Working Men's College Magazine/' 3 vols., 1859-1861, Mac-
millan, London, 1859 et seq.
" Young International, The," monthly organ of the Young
Communist International, issued in German, Russian,
Swedish, and Italian, by the E.C. of the Young Communist
" Young Rebel," a Paper for Young Socialists, begun May,
1917, suppressed in 1918. (Wallsend-on-Tyne).
" Young Republican," Organ of the Students' Anti-Tory Union,
begun January-March, 1919. (London, only one number is-
" Young Socialist," a Magazine of Justice and Love, organ
of the Socialist Sunday School Union, Editor May Westoby,
13 Wilton Crescent, Wimbledon, London.
Young Socialist Crusaders, Aims, Objects, and Methods of
Organisation, National Council of British Socialist Sunday
Schools, C. M'Nab Shaw, Snowlea, Kirkburn Avenue, Cam-
buslang, Glasgow, 1920.
M Young Worker, The," with which is incorporated " The Red
Flag," monthly organ of The Young Workers' League. First
issue, Easter, 1921.
ZioRossER, Carl. The Modern School, (pamphlet), Ferrer
Colony, Stelton, N. Jersey, U.S.A., 1918.
EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS
(British unless otherwise specified).
Adult School Union. See National Adult School Union.
Argentina. Socialist Party, Comision de Fomento de las
Bibliotecas, Rivadavia 2089, Buenos- Aires.
Argentina. Sociedad Luz, founded 1899, to " instruct the
people." Has a library of approx. 10,000 books. Is now
building a People's House in two stories ; big conference hall,
library, museum, etc. Address : El Hogar Obrero, Martin
Gracia 473, Buenos-Aires.
Argentina. Workers' Library, founded 1897, approximately
13,000 vols., supported more and more by trade unions, is
housed in a building of its own. Address : Biblioteca Obrera,
| Calle Mejico 2070, Buenos-Aires.
Cooperative, Central Education Committee appointed in 1885;
address, Holyoake House, Holyoake Street, Manchester.
Cooperative College, projected before the war, established 1918,
pending provision of permanent headquarters is now carried
on at Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester.
Fircroft College, Bournville, opened in 1909, young men, Resi-
dential. (Adult School Union).
Ford Cottage, York, founded 1919, winter school, residential
for women students. (Adult School Union).
France. Clarte, 12 rue Feydeau, Paris.
Holland. Bond van Revol. Soc. Intellectueelen, 2e Constantijn
Huygenstraat 79, Amsterdam. Sub-Committee of Education,
P. Schut, Lithwinastraat, Schiedam, Holland. Bond van
Communistische Onderwijzers (Teachers). This League runs
a periodical which is well informed on educational work in
Soviet Russia, Amsterdam.
Manor House, Bewdley, Worcestershire, winter school, resi-
dential for women. (Adult School Union).
Mexico. Jose Vasconcelos, Minister for Education and Rector
of National University, has introduced new educational sys-
tem. The curriculum includes Economics and Socialism.
Two new chairs have been established recently. Robert
Haberman, socialist, and correspondent of the " New York
Call," who helped to establish the socialist government of
Yucatan, has been entrusted with the professorships of both
Morley Memorial College, founded 1889, Waterloo Road, London.
National Adult School Union founded in 1899. Arose out of
Sunday School movement, 30 Bloomsbury Street, London,
Oxford House University Settlement, founded in 1884, Mape
Street, Bethnal Green, London, E.2.
Penscot, Somerset, winter school, residential for women.
(Adult School Union).
Plebs League, 11a Penywern Road, Earls Court, London, S.W.5.
(The genius of Proletcultural activities in Britain. In con-
versation with a member of the League who recently visited
Russia, both Lenin and Poliansky expressed their admira-
tion for the work of the Plebs League and the Labour
Selly Oak, Adult School Settlement, founded 1909. (A resident
U.S.A. Bureau of Industrial Research, 289 Fourth Avenue,
New York City.
U.S.A. Cooperative Schools of Greater New York, 402 Stone
Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City. Other schools at Down-
town; Harlem; Brownsville.
U.S.A. Ferrer Colony, Stelton, New Jersey. Modern School
transferred here from New York in 1916. A school for the
children of working people, wage-workers almost without
U.S.A. Williamsburg Culture Center and Workmen's Circle,
c.o. N.Y. " Call/' 112 Fourth Avenue, New York City.
Workers' Educational Association, founded 1903, 16 Harpur
Street, London, W.C.I.
Workers' Educational Trade Union Committee, 16 Harpur
Street, London, W.C.I.
LABOUR COLLEGES AND PROLETCULT COUNCILS
(British unless otherwise stated).
Central Labour College, founded 1909, now Labour College,
Educational Sub-Committee of the South Wales Miners'
Federation, St. Andrew's Crescent, Cardiff. A
France. Centrale d'Education Ouvriere at Lyons, first centre
to be formed for teaching young workers the elements of
Working Class History, Socialism, and the history of revo-
lutions. Has an Art section. Secretary, Pierre Laurent,
Groupe d'Etudiants Communistes de Lyon.
France. Ecole de Propagandistes, 49 rue de Bretagne, Paris.
France. Ecole Marxiste, 49 rue de Bretagne, Paris. Lectures
Sundays and Thursdays. Secretary : Dr. Grabois, 50 rue
des Francs-Bourgeois, Paris.
Germany. Ratebund, Luisenstrasse 28, Berlin, N.W.6, Ger-
many. (A Berlin organisation for proletcultural publishing
Italy. Istituto di Cultnra Proletaria, 12 Corso Galileo Fer-
raris, Turin. (Labour College, inaugurated, Jan., 1921.)
Labour College (late Central Labour College), sec. : Geo. Sims,
13 Penywern Road, Earls Court, London, S.W.5.
London Council for Independent Working-Class Education, R
Holder, 11a Penywern Road, Earls Court, London, S.W.5.
Liverpool Council for Independent Working-Class Education,
J. Hamilton, 99 Botanic Road, Liverpool.
Manchester Labour College, J. McGee, Woodlands Lodge,
Crescent Road, Crumpsall, Manchester.
Mexican Labour College, Calle de Belisario Dominguez, Mexico
North-Eastern District of the Labour College, 5 Byroni Street,
Ruskin College, founded 1899, at Oxford. Opened to women
in 1920. Now has a woman's hostel with seven resident
students in addition to the men students at the College.
Russia. Six old universities now increased to 16, free.
Polytechnics, free. Libraries, towns and villages. (Consult
chapter viii, " Proletcult in Russia ").
Scottish Labour College, sees. : P. Lavin, 196 St. Vincent Street,
Glasgow, and J. Miller, 30 Newhaven Road, Leith, Edinburgh.
Sheffield Labour College, T. Worrall, 33 Swarcliffe Road, Shef-
Switzerland. Universite Populaire, Berne. A partial realisa-
tion of the " unified labour school/ ' The workers meet in
groups of 10 for the study of various subjects, including
economics. No professors. The students do their own teach-
U.S.A. Rand School of Social Science, 7 East 15th Street, New
SOCIALIST AND COMMUNIST YOUTH ORGANISATIONS
AND PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS
International of Youth (Communist), Smolny, Room 32,
Alsace-Lorraine, Verband Soz. Jugend or Entente Regionale
des Jeunesse Socialistes, 6 rue des Musiciens, Mtilhausen.
Austria, Communist Union, Pulverturmgasse 7, Vienna, ix.
Verband Jugendlicher Arbeiter (Social Democratic), Rechte
Wienzeile, 97, Vienna v/1.
Belgium, Jeune Garde, rue Steenport 3 a la Fontaine, Brussels.
Britain, Young Workers' League, 28 East Road, City Road,
Bulgaria, Com. Union of Youth, Naroden Dom, Sofia.
Czecho-Slovakia, Communist Union of Youth, Hybernska
Ulica 7, Prague.
Denmark, Social demokratisk Ungdomsforbund, Romersgade
France, Internationale Communiste des Jeunes, 123 rue Mont-
ma rtre, Paris.
Germany, Freie Soz. Jugend, Stralauerstrasse 12, Berlin, C.2.
Kommunistische Arbeiterjiigend, Gfirtelstrasse 25, Berlin, O,
112. Volksreise Verband (Sports and travel), Engelufer 15,
Holland, De Zaaier (Communist), Scheaperstraat 28, The
Hungary, Communist Youth (illegal), numbered 120,000 before
overthrow of the Soviet government. No address at present.
Italy, Fed. Giovanile Socialista (Communist), Via del Semin-
ario 87, Rome.
Luxemburg, Jeunesse Socialiste, Kongregationsstrasse 3, Lux-
Norway, Socialdemokatiske Ungdomsforbund, St. Olafsgate
Poland, Communist Youth, mainly illegal, has clubs in War-
saw, Lodz, and elsewhere. No address at present.
Portugal, Syndicalist Youth. No address.
Rumania, Socialist Union of Youth, Strada St. Jonica, 12,
Russia, Communist Union of Youth, Machawaja 7, Moscow.
Serbia, Communist Union of Youth. No address.
Spain, Communist Youth, Mendizabal 78iii, Madrid.
Slovene (Hungary) Socialist Young Workers, Bratislava Ulica
12, Kaschau, Hungary.
Sweden, Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsforbund (Communist),
Torsgaten 10, Stockholm.
Switzerland, Union of Youth, Kornerstra^sse 12, Zurich; and
Case Postale, Eaux-Vives, Geneva.
U.S.A., Young People's Socialist League, Helen Harvey, 220
South Ashland Boulevard, Chicago, 111.
SOCIALIST SUNDAY SCHOOLS.
Britain. Headquarters. Clarice M'Nab-Shaw, Snowlea, Kirk-
burn Avenue, Cambuslang, Glasgow.
Modern School, London, reopened March 6th, 1921, Capmakers'
Hall, Commercial Road, E.
Proletarian School Movement, 17 Oswald Street, Glasgow ;
gen. sec., T. Islwyn Nicholas, Shamrock House, Alexandra
Switzerland. Headquarters. Alfred Hiimbelin, Birmens-
dorferstr 55, Zurich 4.
U.S.A. Headquarters. E. C. Breithut, 569 West 171 Street,
New York City.
UNIVERSITY SOCIALIST FEDERATIONS & SOCIETIES.
Austria, Freier Verein Soz. Studenten, Paul Stein, Prater 22,
Belgium, F£d. Nat. Etudiants Socialistes, Gorges Bohy, 108,
Av. Ducpetaux, Brussels.
Britain, University Socialist Federation, 34 Eccleston Sq.,
France, F£d. Nat. Etudiants Socialistes, Alphonse Goldenberg,
60, rue du Chateau d'Eau, Paris; and Rene* Bremier, 9,
Avenue Marigny, Fontenay-sous-Bois.
Germany, Soz. Studentenbund, Fritz Kausch, Anlage 66,
Heidelberg. Block Revolution^ Studenten (Communists),
Karl. A. Wittfogel, Landhausstrasse, Berlin- Wilmersdorf.
Holland, Vereeniging Nederlandsche Soc. Studenten, Leentje
Verhoeven, Apothekerdijk 25a, Leyden. Bond Rev. Soc.
Studenten, Leyden and Amsterdam.
Ireland, Queen's University of Belfast Revolutionary Society,
Brice Olarke, Coole Glebe, Carnmoney, Belfast.
Italy, Gruppo Studenti Socialisti, Via Teatrovelle 27, Rome.
Spain, Gruppo Estudiantes Socialistas, Casa del Pueblo, Calle
del Piamonte, Madrid; and Casa del Pueblo, Salvador 6,
Switzerland, Fed. Suisse des Etudiants Socialistes, Charles
Reber, 61, Boulevard Carl Vogt, Geneva.
U.S.A., Intercollegiate Socialist Society, H. W. Laidler, 70
Fifth Avenue, New York City.
YOUNG INTERNATIONAL PRESS.
Alsace-Lorraine, " Junge Revolutionar," Hoffnungsstrasse 77,
Argentina. " La Vanguardia," Rivadavia 2089, Buenos- Aires.
(Daily organ of the Socialist Party. Has frequent educa-
Austria. " Kommunistische Jugend," Pulverturmgasse 7,
Belgium. " Ouvrier Communiste," a la Fontaine 3 rue
Britain. " Young Worker," 28 East Road, City Road, London,
N.l. " Red Dawn," 17 Oswald Street, Glasgow. " Young
Socialist," 13 Wilton Crescent, Wimbledon, London, S.W.
" Bulletin," University Socialist Federation, 34 Eccleston
Square, London, S.W.I.
Bulgaria. " Mladeschka Prawda," Naroden Dom, Lewow
Most PL, Sofia. " Drugartsche " (children), same address.
Czecho-Slovakia. " Junge Welt," Theresiengasse 13, Teplitz-
Schonau. " Az Ifju Garda," Bratislava Duna 12, Kaschau,
Hungary. " Mlady Proletar," Hybernska Ul. 7, Prague.
" Mlady Delnlk," Bratislava Duna 48, Kaschau, Hungary.
Denmark. " Fremad," Romersgade 22, Copenhagen. " Laer-
lingen " (schoolchildren) N. Birkegade 7, Copenhagen.
" Arbejdernes Borneblad " (children) Drogensgade 16,
Finland. " Nuori Tyalainen," Sirkuskasu 5, Helsingfors (in
Finnish). " Till Storm," same address (in Swedish).
France. " L'Avantgarde Ouvrier et Communiste," 123 rue
Germany. " Junge Garde," Stralauerstr 12, Berlin, C.2.
" Junge Genosse " (international-children), Schievelbeinerstr
6, Berlin, N.113.
Holland. " Jonge Kommunist," Rembrandtstraat 378, The
Hague. " Jeugdige Werker," Commelinstraat 81, Amster-
Italy. " Avanguardia," via del Seminario 87, Rome. " Ger-
moglio," same address. " Gioventu Rossa," via Emanuele
Filiberto 125, Rome.
Jugo-Slavia. " Czvena Zastava," Sarajews-Kaja 45, Belgrade.
44 Budutschnostj," (Narodni Doin, Belgrade.
Latvia. 44 Juni Sparlak," no address, clandestine publication.
Lithuania. " Janassis Komniunista," published clandestinely
in Lithuanian, Russian, and Yiddish. No address.
Luxemburg. " Neue Jugend," Bommwegerstrasse 10, Luxem-
Norway. " Klassenkampen," St. Olafsgate 14iii, Christiania.
Poland. " Glos Mlodziezy Socialistyeznej " and " Freie Ar-
beiter Jugend " (Yiddish); former address, Karmelicka 15,
Warsaw. At present appearing from time to time, clan-
Rumania. " Tinesetul Socialist,' ' St. Jonica 12, Bucharest.
Russia. " Yuny Kommunist, ,, Machawja 7, Moscow. " Yuny
Proletary," Krasnaja 21, Petrograd. In addition 70 pro-
vincial papers, and 90 Young People's supplements in dailies.
SrAiN. " El Communista, ,, Mendizabal 78iii, Madrid.
Sweden. 44 Stormglocken," Torgaten 10, Stockholm. " Barn-
tidningen " (children), same address.
Switzerland. ' 4 Neue Jugend,' ' Burgvogtei, Basle. " Junge
Saat," Kornerstr 12, Zurich. " Nouvelle Internationale,"
Case Postale, Eaux-Vives, Geneva. " Junge Schweiz "
and " Jeune Suisse " (students), Marktplatz 6, Basle.
U.S.A. " Young International," Loeb 2458 N, Seminary
Avenue, Chicago, 111.
International. " Young International," monthly, published
simultaneously in Russian, German, Swedish, and Italian.
Headquarters : Internationa ler Jugendverlag, Feurigstrasse,
63, Berlin-Schoneberg, Germany. " Correspondence of the
Young International " (every 10 days), published simultane-
ously in English, French, and German by the E.C. of the
Young Communist International. Same address.
Workmen's Circle, Children's Educational Department, 175
East Broadway, New York City, U.S.A.
(Including child education. British when not otherwise stated).
Argentina. Library and Recreations for Children founded
recently by socialists. Object is to gather workers' children
together, to amuse them with books, pictures, games, sing-
ing, and handicrafts, excursions, walks, etc., in order to
keep them off the street. The Society has five libraries and
recreation places in Buenos- Ayres. Has hitherto been self-
supporting but now the municipal council has decided to
allocate 500 piastres a month for the daily provision of milk
and bread for the children. Address : Fenia Ch. de Repetto,
Bibliotecas 7 Recreos Infantiles, Rivadavia 4433, Buenos-
Burston Strike School, T. G. Higden, Strike School, Burston,
France. For information re Froletcult, apply to L£on Clement,
3 Place de Rennes, Paris, 6e. See also " Plebs " for May, 1921.
Industrial Syndicalist Education League (now extinct). The
object of the League was to educate the workers in the
principles of syndicalism.
Mechanics* Institute, 1799; Birkbeck started lecturing to ar-
tisans at Glasgow and organised the first Mechanics' Institute
in that city in 1800. The same philanthropist organised the
first Mechanics' Institute in London (1824). Originally these
Institutes were for technical education, but subsequently they
also gave general education. Eventually they developed in
two different directions, some becoming Working Men's
Clubs and others becoming Working Men's Colleges.
Modern School founded in New York City in 1911, transferred
to Stelton in 1916. See Ferrer Colony, p. 150.
Montessori School for Workers' Children. J. Prins-Werker,
van Hovenstraat 66, The Hague, Holland.
Neighborhood Playhouse and Workshop, Alice and Irene
Lewisohn, 466, Grand Street, New York City, U.S.A.
Progressive Education Association, Stanwood Cobb, 1607 Irving
Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Proletarische Schulgemeinde, Baiimgartner-Kinderheim, Vien-
Russia. Unity School for all children from 6 to 17 years of
age, Gratis. Clothing and food also free. (See " School
Life," July 16, 1919, U.S. Bureau of Education. Also cf.
" The Modern School," issue for Oct., Nov., Dec, 1919).
Toynbee Hall, Whitechapel, founded 1884 in memory of Arnold
Toynbee (1852-1883). Toynbee, economist and social re-
former, advocate of " down among the masses " movement,
worked in Whitechapel with Canon Barnett from 1875 on-
wards. (See " University Settlement ").
Tutorial Classes first started at Toynbee Hall, 1899.
University Populaires, arose out of the Dreyfus Affair, and
were run by bourgeois intellectuals with a taste for going
down among the masses, upon which were to be conferred
the benefits of bourgeois education. Practically extinct be-
fore the war.
University Extension, term first used in 1850.
University Settlement, 1872, Whitechapel. Founded by Canon
Barnett. After death of Arnold Toynbee, became Toynbee
Hall, which see.
U.S.A. Libertarian Schools : Brookwood School (colony and
school); sec, William Fincke, P.O. Katonah, Westchester
County, New York. Fairhope School, Principal Marietta
^-^Johnson, Fairhope, Alabama. German Free Schools, 243 East
84th Street, New York City. Jewish Radical Schools, Sholom
Aleichem, New York City. Walt Whitman School, 517 South
Boyle Av., Los Angeles, California.
Women Citizens Association founded during the war to edu-
cate women " for citizenship.' '
Women's Cooperative Guild founded 1883.
Women's Institutes formed during the war to " provide a
centre for educational and social intercourse."
Working Men's Club and Institute, Ltd., 127 Clerkenwell Road,
Working Men's College (London) 1854. Maurice and Christian
Socialists were convinced that 4i the social problem was at
root a problem of education."
Working Women's College, Y.W.C.A., founded 1920 at Beck-
[Much matter of great value has reached us too late for incor-
poration either in text or appendix. We hope to make use
of it if a second edition is called for.— E. & C. P.]